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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Jim Chones – 1972-’73 Topps #259


James Bernett Chones (born November 30, 1949 in Racine, Wisconsin) is an American former professional basketball player. A 6’11″ forward/center, Chones starred at Marquette University, where he earned All-America honors as a junior in 1972 after averaging 20.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. When he left Marquette to pursue an NBA career, he was only the second player in NCAA history to leave school for the NBA, before his graduating year. Professionally, he first played in the American Basketball Association (ABA) and later in the National Basketball Association. Chones won an NBA Championship as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1980, and he retired from basketball in 1982 with combined ABA/NBA totals of 9,821 points and 6,427 rebounds. After retiring from the NBA, Chones spent eleven seasons as the television color analyst for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and in 2007, returned as a radio postgame analyst. Thirty-five years after leaving Marquette, Chones returned to earn his degree in Philosophy. He was inducted into the Marquette University Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Cleveland Sports Commission Hall of Fame in 2006. In addition to his broadcasting duties with the Cavaliers, Chones has been an occasional color analyst for the Milwaukee Bucks. For the 2010-2011 season, usual Cavs radio voice Joe Tait has missed much of the season as he recovers from surgery/illness. During this time, Chones and WTAM morning co-host/sports director and Cavs pregame/postgame host Mike Snyder have formed the interim radio play by play team.

Al Oliver – 1973 Topps #225


Albert Oliver, Jr.(born October 14, 1946 in Portsmouth, Ohio) is a former Major League Baseball player. Over the course of his 18-year career, he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1968–77), Texas Rangers (1978–81), Montreal Expos (1982–83), San Francisco Giants (1984), Philadelphia Phillies (1984), Los Angeles Dodgers (1985) and Toronto Blue Jays (1985). Nicknamed “Scoop”, Oliver batted and threw left-handed. Oliver was a center fielder who also played left and right as well as first base. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1964. From 1970-76 he played on five Pirates division champions, including the team that defeated the Orioles in the 1971 World Series. Al Oliver was a career .303 hitter with 219 home runs and 1326 RBI in 2368 games. He batted .300 or more eleven times and retired with 2,743 hits (45th on the all-time list). He also ranks among all-time top 50 in games played (2368), total bases (4083), RBI (1326) and extra-base hits (825). He was among the league’s top ten in doubles nine times and among the league’s top ten in hits nine times as well and finished in the top ten in batting average nine times. Five times he was among the league’s top ten in total bases and four times he was in the top ten in RBIs. Because of these feats, his name has been mentioned more than once as a possible inductee into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. Oliver hit the last home run ever hit at Forbes Field. His shot came off Milt Pappas in the sixth inning of the last game played at the stadium, the second game of a June 28, 1970, doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs.

Tito Fuentes – 1973 Topps #236


Rigoberto “Tito” Fuentes Peat(born January 4, 1944 in Havana, Cuba) is a retired second baseman who played for 13 seasons in the Major Leagues between 1965 and 1978. Fuentes played for most of his career with the San Francisco Giants where he still remains a fan favorite. The Giants initially signed Fuentes as an 18-year-old amateur before the start of the 1962 season. He was one of the last baseball players signed directly out of Cuba before the United States embargo. Originally debuting in the majors 1965 as a late-season call-up, Fuentes split time between second base and shortstop as a rookie in 1966. He batted .261 in his maiden year while playing solid defense at both positions. He slumped to batting .209 the following year, and subsequently, he spent all of 1968 in the minor leagues. Fuentes returned to the Giants in 1969 and spent the next two seasons as a “utility infielder” before re-gaining his starting spot at second base in 1971. He appeared in the postseason during the 1971 season as his Giants won the NL West title; his two-run home run in Game 1 of the 1971 NLCS helped San Francisco take an early series lead against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but that would turn out to be the Giants’ only win of the best-of-five series. In 1977, Fuentes played with the Detroit Tigers and had a career-best .309 batting average. Despite having his best season, he was not brought back in 1978. The Montreal Expos then purchased his contract. Before the start of the season, however, Fuentes was released. During the year, he signed with the Oakland Athletics, but he was released again after batting just .140 in only 13 games. He retired shortly afterward.

Terry Humphrey – 1973 Topps #106


Terryal Gene Humphrey (born August 4, 1949, in Chickasha, Oklahoma) is a former professional baseball player who played nine seasons for the Montreal Expos, Detroit Tigers, and California Angels of Major League Baseball.

Sparky Lyle – 1973 Topps #394


Albert Walter “Sparky” Lyle(born July 22, 1944) is an American former left-handed relief pitcher who spent sixteen seasons in Major League Baseball. He was a closer from 1969 to 1977, first for the Boston Red Sox and then the New York Yankees. A three-time All-Star, he won the American League Cy Young Award in 1977. He was most famous for co-authoring with Peter Golenbock The Bronx Zoo, a 1979 tell-all book which chronicled the dissension within the Yankees in its World Series Championship seasons of 1977 and 1978. Despite the fact Lyle had won the 1977 Cy Young Award, the Yankees signed Goose Gossage as a free agent during the 1977 off-season, and Gossage followed with an outstanding 1978 season which made Lyle expendable. On November 10, 1978, Lyle was part of a major trade that sent him, along with four other players and cash, to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Juan Beníquez and four other players, including a young Dave Righetti. During the 1978 season, Yankees teammate Graig Nettles famously quipped that Lyle went “from Cy Young to sayonara.” On August 21, 1982, he was purchased by the Chicago White Sox from the Phillies. His last game was played on September 27 of that season for the White Sox, who released him on October 12. Lyle finished his 16-year career with 238 saves, a 2.88 ERA, and a record of 99-76 in 899 games pitched — all in relief. In 1985, Fingers broke his American League record for career saves; and in 1991 Righetti surpassed Lyle’s major-league record for career saves by a left-hander, though Lyle still holds the AL mark of 232. Lyle has been a manager of the Somerset Patriots,a baseball team of the Atlantic League, since 1998.

Ron Santo – 1973 Topps #115


Ronald Edward Santo(February 25, 1940 – December 3, 2010) was an American professional baseball player, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and long-time radio sports commentator. He played in Major League Baseball from 1960 to 1974, most notably as the third baseman for the Chicago Cubs. A nine-time All-Star, he was a powerful hitter who was also a good defensive player, winning five Gold Glove Awards. Despite suffering from diabetes, he carefully concealed the condition for most of his career. The disease eventually necessitated the amputation of the lower half of both legs. Santo became the first player in major league history to wear a batting helmet with protective ear flaps, when in 1966, in the midst of trying to break the Cubs’ modern consecutive-game hitting streak record of 27 games (set by Hack Wilson in 1929), Santo was sidelined for nearly two weeks following a pitch thrown by the Mets’ Jack Fisher (beaning) that fractured his cheekbone and ended his consecutive playing streak. When he returned (and broke the hitting record with a 28-game streak) he was wearing an improvised ear flap on his batting helmet in order to protect the injury; ear flaps have since become standard equipment on batting helmets.

Rogelio Moret – 1973 Topps #291


Rogelio (Torres) “Roger” Moret (born September 16, 1949 in Guayama, Puerto Rico) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who played for the Boston Red Sox (1970-1975), Atlanta Braves (1976) and Texas Rangers (1977-1978). In 168 games (82 as a starter and 86 as a reliever), he posted a career won-lost record of 47-27 and an earned run average of 3.66. Moret led the American League in winning percentage in both 1973 (.867) and 1975 (.824). His career ended in 1978 in a bizarre fashion. Scheduled to be the starting pitcher against the Detroit Tigers on April 12, Moret was spotted in the Ranger locker room in a catatonic state, with his arm extended holding a slipper. He was unresponsive to examiners, and was immediately taken to a psychiatric facility and went on the disabled list. He appeared in only six more games after the bizarre incident. In the film Fever Pitch, the incident was cited as an instance where the Curse of the Bambino struck the Red Sox, but this is an error, as Moret was no longer with that team.

Oscar Robertson – 1972-’73 Topps #70


Oscar Palmer Robertson(born November 24, 1938 in Charlotte, Tennessee), nicknamed “The Big O”, is a former American NBA player with the Cincinnati Royals and the Milwaukee Bucks. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Robertson played the shooting guard/point guard position, and was a twelve-time All-Star, eleven-time member of the All-NBA Team, and one-time winner of the MVP award in fourteen professional seasons. He is the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season. He was a key player on the team which brought the Bucks their only NBA championship in the 1970-71 NBA season. His playing career, especially during high school and college, was plagued by racism. For his outstanding achievements, Robertson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980, and was voted one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. The United States Basketball Writers Association renamed their college Player of the Year Award the Oscar Robertson Trophy in his honor in 1998, and he was one of five people chosen to represent the inaugural National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame class in 2006. Robertson was also an integral part of the Oscar Robertson suit of 1970. The landmark NBA antitrust suit, named after the then-president of the NBA Players’ Association, led to an extensive reform of the league’s strict free agency and draft rules and, subsequently, to higher salaries for all players.

Rick Monday – 1973 Topps #44


Robert James “Rick” Monday, Jr. (born November 20, 1945 in Batesville, Arkansas) is a former center fielder in Major League Baseball and is currently a broadcast announcer. From 1966 through 1984, Monday, a center fielder for most of his career, played for the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics (1966–71), Chicago Cubs (1972–76) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1977–84). He batted and threw left-handed. In a 19-season career, Monday compiled a .264 batting average with 241 home runs and 775 RBI. He was selected an All-Star in 1968 and 1978.
The two most famous moments of Monday’s career were both associated with the Dodgers. In the first, on April 25, 1976, during a game at Dodger Stadium, two protesters, William Thomas and his 11-year-old son, ran into the outfield and tried to set fire to an American flag they had brought with them. Monday, then playing with the Cubs, noticed they had placed the flag on the ground and were fumbling with matches and lighter fluid; he then dashed over and grabbed the flag from the ground to thunderous cheers. He handed the flag to Los Angeles pitcher Doug Rau, after which the ballpark police officers arrested the two intruders. When he came up to bat in the next half-inning, he got a standing ovation from the crowd and the big message board behind the left-field bleachers in the stadium flashed the message, “RICK MONDAY… YOU MADE A GREAT PLAY…” He later said, “If you’re going to burn the flag, don’t do it around me. I’ve been to too many veterans’ hospitals and seen too many broken bodies of guys who tried to protect it.”Monday was a U.S. Military member himself, having served a commitment with the Marine Corps Reserve as part of his ROTC obligation after leaving Arizona State. On August 25, 2008, Monday was presented with an American flag flown over Valley Forge National Historical Park in honor of his 1976 rescue. Monday is still in possession of the flag he rescued from the protestors; he has had offers to sell it (for up to $1 million) but has declined all offers. At the September 2nd, 2008 Los Angeles Dodgers game, Rick Monday was presented with a Peace One Earth medallion by Patricia Kennedy, founder of the non-profit organization Step Up 4 Vets, for his actions on April 25, 1976.

Mike Lum -1973 Topps #266


Michael Ken-Wai Lum (born October 27, 1945 in Honolulu, Hawaii) was an Outfielder and First Baseman for the Atlanta Braves (1967–75 and 1979–81), Cincinnati Reds (1976–78) and Chicago Cubs (1981). He also played one season in Japan for the Taiyo Whales in 1982. He helped the Braves win the 1969 National League Western Division and the Reds win the 1976 World Series. In 15 seasons he played in 1,517 Games and had 3,554 At Bats, 404 Runs, 877 Hits, 128 Doubles, 20 Triples, 90 Home Runs, 431 RBI, 13 Stolen Bases, 366 Walks, .247 Batting Average, .319 On-base percentage, .370 Slugging Percentage, 1,315 Total Bases, 18 Sacrifice Hits, 33 Sacrifice Flies and 54 Intentional Walks. He is the only player to pinch hit for Hank Aaron. Lum was the first American of Japanese ancestry to play in the major leagues. He was adopted by a Chinese-Hawaiian family.

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