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Monthly Archives: February 2012

The All-Time Total Base Leader – Hank Aaron – 1873 Topps #473


Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron (born February 5, 1934), 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).

The All-Time Strikeout Leader-Walter Johnson – 1973 Topps #478


Walter Perry Johnson(November 6, 1887 – December 10, 1946), was a Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher. He played his entire 21-year baseball career for the Washington Senators (1907–1927). He would later serve as manager of the Senators from 1929 through 1932 and for the Cleveland Indians from 1933 through 1935. One of the most celebrated and dominating players in baseball history, Johnson established several pitching records, some of which remain unbroken. He remains by far the all-time career leader in shutouts with 110, second in wins with 417, and fourth in complete games with 531. He once held the career record in strikeouts with 3,508 and was the only player in the 3,000 strikeout club for over 50 years until Bob Gibson recorded his 3,000th strikeout in 1974. Johnson led the league in strikeouts a Major League record 12 times, one more than current strikeout leader Nolan Ryan — including a record eight consecutive seasons.

Sparky Anderson – 1973 Topps #296


George Lee “Sparky” Anderson (February 22, 1934 – November 4, 2010) was an American Major League Baseball manager. He managed the National League’s Cincinnati Reds to the 1975 and 1976 championships, then added a third title in 1984 with the Detroit Tigers of the American League. He was the first manager to win the World Series in both leagues. His 2,194 career wins are the sixth most for a manager in Major League history. He was named American League Manager of the Year in 1984 and 1987. Anderson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.
Anderson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager in 2000. Although he managed 17 seasons in Detroit and just 9 seasons in Cincinnati, his Hall of Fame plaque has him wearing a Cincinnati Reds uniform. He chose to wear the Reds cap at his induction in honor of former GM Bob Howsam, who gave Anderson his first chance at a major-league managing job. Before his induction, Anderson had refused to go inside the Hall because he felt unworthy, saying “I didn’t ever want to go into the most precious place in the world unless I belonged.” In his acceptance speech he gave a lot of credit to his players, saying there were two kinds of managers, “One, it ain’t very smart. He gets bad players, loses games and gets fired. There was somebody like me that was a genius. I got good players, stayed out of the way, let ‘em win a lot, and then just hung around for 26 years.” He was very proud of his Hall induction, “I never wore a World Series ring … I will wear this ring until I die.”
Anderson was also inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame the same year. On May 28, 2005, during pre-game ceremonies in Cincinnati, Anderson’s jersey number, #10, was retired by the Reds. A day in Anderson’s honor was also held at Detroit’s Comerica Park during the 2000 season. On June 17, 2006, Anderson’s number was retired by the Fort Worth Cats, for whom Anderson had played in 1955. In 2007, Anderson was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Throughout the 2011 season the Tigers honored Anderson with a patch on their right sleeves. They officially retired his No. 11 on the brick wall at Comerica Park on June 26, 2011.

Boyhood Photo of the Stars-Sam McDowell – 1973 Topps#342


Samuel Edward Thomas McDowell(born September 21, 1942 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), is a former professional baseball pitcher. He played fifteen seasons in Major League Baseball, with the first 11 coming for the Cleveland Indians before a 1971 trade to the San Francisco Giants, followed by stints with the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates. A six-time All-Star, McDowell was primarily a starting pitcher during his major league career. Tall and powerful, his left-handed fastball was delivered with an unusually calm pitching motion which led to his memorable nickname: “Sudden Sam.” His strikeout prowess was sometimes nullified by periodic control problems. McDowell finished with 2,453 career strikeouts and an average of 8.86 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, ranking him ninth all-time as of 2011. At the time of his retirement, his strikeout rate was bested by only two pitchers: Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax. His ratio of 7.03 hits allowed per nine innings also places him ninth all-time as of 2011. He ranks eighth all time on the list of career ten or more strikeout games with 74, tied with Bob Gibson. His 2159 strikeouts as an Indian place him second all time on the team’s career list, behind Bob Feller. In four All-Star appearances, McDowell struck out twelve NL All-Stars over eight innings, and was the losing pitcher in the 1965 game.

Red Schoendienst – 1973 Topps #497


Albert Fred “Red” Schoendienst (born February 2, 1923) is an American Major League Baseball coach, former player and manager, and 10-time All-star. After a 19-year playing career with the St. Louis Cardinals (1945–56, 1961–63), New York Giants (1956–57) and Milwaukee Braves (1957–60), Schoendienst managed the Cardinals from 1965 through 1976, the second-longest managerial tenure in the team’s history (behind Tony La Russa’s). Under his direction St. Louis won the 1967 and 1968 National League pennants and the 1967 World Series, and Schoendienst was named National League Manager of the Year in both ’67 and ’68. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 by the Veterans Committee. Schoendienst remains with the Cardinals as Special Assistant Coach; as of 2011 he has worn a Major League uniform as a player, coach or manager for 66 consecutive seasons. Red Schoendienst was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 by the Veterans Committee, and the Cardinals retired his number (2) in 1990. In 1998 he was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Ralph Houk – 1973 Topps #116


Ralph George Houk (August 9, 1919 – July 21, 2010), nicknamed The Major, was an American catcher, coach, manager, and front office executive in Major League Baseball. He is best known as the successor of Casey Stengel as the manager of the New York Yankees from 1961–63, when he won three consecutive American League pennants and the 1961–62 World Series championships.
Houk’s last years as an active player were actually spent as the Yankees’ full-time bullpen coach. In 1955, he was named manager of the Yanks’ AAA affiliate, the Denver Bears of the American Association. Following three highly successful seasons at Denver, Houk returned to the Bronx as Stengel’s first-base coach from 1958 to 1960. From late May through early June 1960, Houk served as acting manager of the Yanks for 13 games while Stengel, 70, was sidelined by illness.  Then, after the Yanks lost the 1960 World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and with Houk one of the hottest managerial candidates in baseball, the Yankees “discharged” Stengel and promoted Houk.
He died in July 2010 in Winter Haven, Florida. At age 90 he was, at the time, the oldest living manager of a World Series-winning, pennant-winning or post-season team. He was survived by a daughter, Donna; a son, Robert; four grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. On July 22 the Yankees announced players and coaches would wear a black armband in Houk’s memory on the left sleeve of their home and away uniforms for the remainder of the 2010 season.

Pat Corrales – 1973 Topps #542


Patrick Corrales(born March 20, 1941 in Los Angeles, California), is a former catcher and manager in Major League Baseball who played from 1964–1973, primarily for the Cincinnati Reds, but also for the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres. Corrales spent nine years as a major league manager and finished with an overall record of 572-634 with the Texas Rangers, Phillies and Cleveland Indians. Corrales managed in both the National League and American League, and became only the fourth manager to manage in both leagues in the same season. He is the only manager ever to be fired while in first place; the Philadelphia Phillies fired him in 1983, and he was replaced by Paul Owens. Corrales is also the first major league manager of Mexican American descent. Since he retired from managing he has had a long career as a bench coach. He acted in that role for nine years with the Atlanta Braves, and was with Washington Nationals for the 2007 and 2008 seasons before being fired at the end of 2008 along with the majority of the Nationals’ coaching staff. Shortly after being fired, he accepted a job as a special consultant to the Nationals. He resumed as bench coach in July 2009 after Jim Riggleman was appointed acting manager after Manny Acta was fired. Corrales was once again appointed Nationals bench coach in June, 2011 by new Manager Davey Johnson. Corrales replaced John McLaren who had been reassigned to scouting duty.

Earl Monroe – 1972-’73 Topps #142


Vernon Earl Monroe (born November 21, 1944, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American former professional basketball player known for his flamboyant dribbling, passing, and play-making. He was nicknamed “Earl the Pearl”. From an early age, Monroe was a playground legend. His high school teammates at John Bartram High School called him “Thomas Edison” because of the many moves he invented. Monroe rose to prominence at a national level while playing basketball at then Division II Winston-Salem State University, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Under the coaching of Hall of Fame coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines, Monroe averaged 7.1 points his freshman year, 23.2 points as a sophomore, 29.8 points as a junior and an amazing 41.5 points his senior year. In 1967, he earned NCAA College Division Player of the Year honors and led the Rams to the NCAA College Division Championship.
In 1971, Monroe was traded to the New York Knicks and formed what was known as the “Rolls Royce Backcourt” with the equally flamboyant Walt Frazier. While there were initial questions as to whether Monroe and Frazier could coexist as teammates, the duo eventually meshed to become one of the most effective guard combinations of all time, leading the Knicks to the 1973 NBA championship. That pairing is one of few backcourts ever to feature two Hall of Famers and NBA 50th Anniversary Team members. A four-time NBA All-Star, Monroe retired after the 1980 season due to serious knee injuries, which had plagued him throughout his career. He had played 926 NBA career games, scored 17,454 total points (18.8 ppg) and dished out 3,594 assists. Monroe had his number 15 jersey retired by the Knicks on March 1, 1986. Even Monroe admits that his flowing, fluid, silky-smooth on-court style of play was unique. He has said: “You know, I watch the games and even now I never see anyone who reminds me of me, the way I played.”

Ken Aspromonte – 1973 Topps #449


Kenneth Joseph Aspromonte(born September 22, 1931 in Brooklyn, New York) is a former second baseman and manager in Major League Baseball who had a seven-year career from 1957 to 1963. He played for the Boston Red Sox, Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians, and Los Angeles Angels of the American League, and the Milwaukee Braves and Chicago Cubs, both of the National League. He also spent three years playing in Japan, spending 1964 and 1965 with the Chunichi Dragons and 1966 with the Taiyo Whales. Aspromonte managed the Indians from 1972 to 1974. He had a record as manager of 220-260. Ken is the older brother of former Major League Baseball player Bob Aspromonte.

Boyhood Photo of the Stars – Jim "Catfish" Hunter – 1973 Topps #344


James Augustus “Catfish” Hunter(April 8, 1946 – September 9, 1999), was a Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher. During a 15-year baseball career, he pitched from 1965-1979 for both the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. Hunter was an effective pitcher, not because he overpowered batters with his speed, but because of the precision of his pitching. Cy Young, Christy Mathewson and Catfish Hunter are the only Major League pitchers to win 200 games by the time they were 31 years old. Along with Billy Williams, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. At the time a player was allowed to choose which team’s cap would be memorialized on his Hall of Fame Plaque. Before and after his induction, Hunter spoke highly of his experiences with both the Athletics and Yankees and his appreciation for both team owners, Charlie Finley and George Steinbrenner. For this reason, he refused to choose a team and thus the plaque depicts him with no insignia on the cap. Hunter died at his home in Hertford, North Carolina, in 1999 after he fell down the stairs at home. He had been suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”, at the time. An annual softball event is held in Hertford in memory of Hunter. All proceeds from the weekend benefit ALS research. The tournament has raised over $100,000 since 1999.

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