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Category Archives: 1st Base

Bob Robertson – 1973 Topps #422

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ImageRobert Eugene Robertson (born October 2, 1946 in Mt. Savage, Maryland) is a former first baseman in Major League Baseball. Robertson, who batted and threw right-handed, played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. Robertson broke into the Pirates’ regular lineup in 1970 playing alongside future Hall-of-Famers Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell. He batted .287 with 27 home runs and 82 runs batted in on a team that won the National League East Division, the Pirates’ first trip to the post-season since winning the 1960 World Series. In 1971 Robertson hit .271 with 26 home runs and 72 RBIs. That year, the Pirates defeated the San Francisco Giants, and the Baltimore Orioles 4 games to 3 to win the World Series. In the NLCS he hit four home runs (a record later tied by Steve Garvey in 1978 and Jeffrey Leonard in 1987), three of them in the Pirates’ Game Two victory. He also added a double, setting the record for most total bases in a post-season game, as well as tying the record of 4 long hits a post-season game. Robertson would hit two more home runs in the World Series; one of those came in Game Three of Baltimore starter Mike Cuellar with Clemente on second and Stargell on first. Third-base coach Frank Oceak had given Robertson the bunt sign in this at-bat, but Robertson, Imagewho had no sacrifice bunts on the season and only one the year before, missed it. Television replays would show that Clemente had appeared to call time-out just before that pitch; however, Cuellar was already in his windup at the time. Steve Blass, the winning pitcher in Game Three, was sitting next to manager Danny Murtaugh in the Pirate dugout. The pitcher offered to pay the fine if Murtaugh imposed one on Robertson for missing the bunt sign. Murtaugh didn’t.
In the years following the World Series title, however Robertson slumped, hitting only .193 with 12 home runs and 41 RBI in 1972, .239 with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs in 1973 and .229 with 16 home runs and 48 RBIs in 1974. After having surgery done on both knees in 1974 he was reduced to only a part-time player.

Ed Kranepool – 1973 Topps #329

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ImageEdward Emil Kranepool (born November 8, 1944) is a former first baseman who spent his entire Major League Baseball career with the New York Mets. After batting a combined .301 at three levels of the Mets’ minor league system in 1962, Kranepool received a September call-up in just his first professional season. At age 17, Kranepool was six years younger than the next-youngest ’62 Met, a reflection of the disastrous decision of Met management to select mostly older veterans in the expansion draft. He made his major league debut wearing number 21 on September 22, 1962 as a late inning defensive replacement for Gil Hodges at first base in a 9-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs at the Polo Grounds. He grounded out to Cubs second baseman Ken Hubbs in his only at bat. He made his first start the next day, September 23, where he played first, and went one for four with a double.
Prior to the start of the 1965 season, the Mets acquired future Hall of fame pitcher Warren Spahn from the Milwaukee Braves. Kranepool gave up his number 21 to Spahn, who had worn that number his entire career, and began wearing number 7. Kranepool was batting .287 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs to be named the sole Mets representative at the 1965 Major ImageLeague Baseball All-Star Game, though he did not play. By the end of the season, Kranepool’s batting average fell to .253, but that was still enough to lead the team that lost 112 games that season, and finished in tenth place in the National League. He also led his team with 133 hits and 24 doubles. In 1966, Kranepool paced the Mets with a career high sixteen home runs to help the Mets avoid a last place finish and 100 losses for the first time in franchise history (95). Ed Kranepool made a living after retirement as a stockbroker and restaurateur, and was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1990. He is currently living in New York.

Dick Allen – 1973 Topps #310

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ImageRichard Anthony Allen (born March 8, 1942 in Wampum, Pennsylvania) is a former Major League Baseball player and R&B singer. He played first and third base and outfield in Major League Baseball and ranked among his sport’s top offensive producers of the 1960s and early 1970s. Most notably playing for the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox, he led the American League in home runs twice, and led both leagues in slugging average and on base percentage. His .534 career slugging average ranks among the highest in an Imageera marked by low averages. He won the 1964 National League Rookie of the Year and 1972 AL MVP. He also spoke his mind, combatted racism, and bucked organizational hierarchy.
Allen enjoyed several years in Philadelphia, where he was as good as any player in baseball, making All-Star teams from 1965–67  and leading the league in slugging (.632), OPS (1.027) and extra base hits (75) in 1966. Frank Robinson, the American League MVP, won the triple crown for leading the AL in home runs, RBI, and BA in 1966. Yet, Dick Allen had the better season per at-bat.

Chris Chambliss – 1973 Topps #11

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Carroll Christopher Chambliss (born December 26, 1948) is a former Major League Baseball player who played from 1971 to 1988 for the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves. On November 4, 2010, Chambliss was hired as the hitting coach of the Seattle Mariners. In 1970, Chambliss was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 1st round of the free-agent draft and in 1971, was named AL Rookie of the Year. Chambliss played first base and was known as a great clutch hitter throughout his career. He was dealt to the Yankees from the Indians Imagein April 1974 along with pitchers Cecil Upshaw and Dick Tidrow for Fritz Peterson, Fred Beene, Tom Buskey, and Steve Kline in a much criticized multi-player deal.
Chambliss played three more seasons with the Yankees, winning a Gold Glove for fielding prowess in 1978. He then moved on to Atlanta from 1980-1986. He had one at-bat with the Yankees in 1988 and struck out. After his playing days ended, Chambliss became a hitting instructor for several teams and was talked about as a possible managerial candidate. Most recently, Chambliss was the manager of the Triple A Charlotte Knights prior to joining the Seattle Mariners in November, 2010 as hitting coach.

Jim Hickman – 1973 Topps #565

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ImageJames Lucius Hickman (born May 10, 1937 in Henning, Tennessee) is a former Major League Baseball player. Hickman was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent prior to the 1956 season. He spent six seasons in the Cardinals’ farm system until he was selected by the New York Mets in the expansion draft. In his five seasons with the Mets, with whom he played 624 games, Hickman batted .241 with 60 home runs with 210 RBI.
The best season of Hickman’s career was 1970 while with the Cubs. After playing in only 198 games from 1966-1968 and batting only .237 in 1969, he hit .315 with 162 hits, 33 doubles, 32 home runs, 115 runs batted in, 102 runs scored and 93 walks—all career highs which won him the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award and placed him 8th in the NL Most Valuable Player Imageballoting. He also made his only All-Star appearance at the Cincinnati Reds’ newly opened Riverfront Stadium where, in the 12th inning, his RBI single drove in hometown favorite Pete Rose for the winning run, Rose barreling over Cleveland Indian catcher Ray Fosse to score the run. Like Hickman, the pitchers of record were also Tennessee natives: Claude Osteen, Hickman’s Dodger teammate in 1967, was the winning pitcher, while Hickman collected the walk-off single off Clyde Wright—his eventual 1970 American League Comeback Player of the Year counterpart.  In his 13-year career, Hickman batted .252 with 159 home runs and 560 RBIs in 1421 games played.

Wes Parker – 1973 Topps #151

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Maurice Wesley Parker III (born November 13, 1939 in Evanston, Illinois) is a former first baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1964 to 1972. He also played one season in Japan for the Nankai Hawks in 1974.
Parker batted a career high of .319 in 1970, joining a small group of players to drive in over 100 runs while hitting 10 homers or less. Known as one of the slickest fielding first basemen of all time, he won the National League Gold Glove Award award for first base every year from 1967 to 1972. He was also part of the 1965 Dodgers World Series team. Parker was a Cincinnati Reds broadcaster in 1973. In a game against the New York Mets in May, 1970, Parker hit for the cycle (single, double, triple, and home run in the same game). He was the last Los Angeles Dodger to accomplish that feat until Orlando Hudson did it against the San Francisco Giants on April 13, 2009. On August 21, 2007, Parker was named to the Major League Baseball All-time Gold Glove Team, and is the only eligible member of the team who is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Nate Colbert – 1973 Topps #340

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Nathan Colbert Jr. (born April 9, 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri), is a former American Major League Baseball player who was a first baseman with the Houston Astros (1966, 1968), San Diego Padres (1969–74), Detroit Tigers (1975), Montreal Expos (1975–76) and Oakland Athletics (1976). Signed by his hometown St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1964, Colbert saw some action with the Houston Astros in 1966 and 1968 before being selected by the Padres in the December 1968 expansion draft. In 1969, the Padres’ inaugural season, and his first full season in the big leagues, Colbert hit 24 homers, which led the club in home runs, and drove in 66 runs while batting .255. He was a National League All-Star from 1971 to 1973. Colbert’s best day in the majors was August 1, 1972, when he slammed 5 home runs – one of two players to have done so – and drove in 13 runs in a doubleheader, breaking Stan Musial’s record of 11 runs batted in. Coincidentally, a young Nate had attended the game where Stan originally set the record. This helped the Padres sweep the Atlanta Braves, 9-0 and 11-7.
Colbert’s .508 slugging percentage, 87 runs, 286 total bases, 38 home runs, 111 RBIs, 70 walks, 67 extra-base hits, 14 intentional walks and 14.8 at bats per home run helped him finish eighth in voting for the NL MVP in 1972. He finished second only to the Cincinnati Reds’ Johnny Bench (40) in home runs that year. His 111 RBIs also set a record that still stands for driving in the highest percentage of his team’s runs. Throughout his career with the Padres from 1969 to 1974, he often was the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal San Diego lineup. After hitting .207 in 1974, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers in a three-way deal. Colbert also played for the Montreal Expos and Oakland Athletics before back problems forced his retirement at 30. Colbert played on nine consecutive last-place teams, from 1968–1976. Colbert is the San Diego Padres all-time home run leader with 163.

Gene Tenace – 1973 Topps #524

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   Fury Gene Tenace (born October 10, 1946) baseball player and current coach in Major League Baseball. He was a catcher and first baseman from 1969 through 1983. Tenace was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics from Valley High School in Lucasville, OH and played for the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He batted and threw right-handed. Tenace was one of the top catchers of his era and won the 1972 World Series Most Valuable Player Award. He was known for his power, especially versus right-handed pitching.
In a 15 year career, Tenace played in 1555 games, accumulating 1060 hits in 4390 at bats for a .241 career batting average along with 201 home runs, 674 runs batted in and an on base percentage of .388. He not only caught nearly 900 games, but also played first base over 600 times. Tenace ended his career with a .986 fielding percentage as a catcher and a .993 fielding percentage as a first baseman. He reached 20 home runs in five of his seven seasons as a regular, with a high of 29 in 1975. After becoming an everyday player in 1973, he did not have an on-base average below .370 until his final year; his OBP was above .400 five times and over .390 (about 60 points above the league average) an additional three times, ending his career with an impressive .388 on base percentage. Six times he drew more than 100 bases on balls, and he led his league twice. He set the American League record for having the lowest batting average while leading the league in walks in 1974 when he posted a .211 batting average with a league-leading 110 walks. In 1977, he had a .415 on base percentage while posting a .233 batting average, the second lowest batting average with a .400 on base percentage in major league history. Less than half of his career trips to first base came via base hits, reaching 1,075 times through walks (984) and being hit by pitches (91) as opposed to only 1,060 hits.
Chuck Rosciam, a Baseball historian and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, believes that Tenace deserves a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Using six offensive measures: Average, On-base percentage, Slugging, RBIs, Runs created and Win shares—all League-Era adjusted, Rosciam ranks Tenace sixth offensively behind Mickey Cochrane, Mike Piazza, Bill Dickey, Gabby Hartnett and Joe Torre among catchers. Tenace is tied for third in OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) with Johnny Bench and Torre. He’s only behind Roy Campanella and Yogi Berra.

Frank Howard – 1973 Topps #560

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Frank Oliver Howard (born August 8, 1936 in Columbus, Ohio), nicknamed “Chico”, “The Washington Monument”, and “The Capital Punisher”, is a former left and right fielder, coach and manager in Major League Baseball who played most of his career for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Senators/Texas Rangers. One of the most physically intimidating (6 ft 8 in) hitters in the sport, he was named the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 1960, and went on to lead the American League in home runs and total bases twice each and in slugging average, runs batted in and walks once each. His 382 career home runs were the eighth most by a right-handed hitter when he retired; his 237 home runs in a Washington uniform are a record for any of that city’s several franchises, as are his 1969 totals of 48 HRs and 340 total bases. His Washington/Texas franchise records of 1,172 games, 4,120 at bats, 246 HRs, 1,141 hits, 701 RBI, 544 runs, 155 doubles, 2,074 total bases and a .503 slugging average have variously been broken by Jim Sundberg, Toby Harrah and Juan González. Following his retirement as a player, Howard managed the San Diego Padres in 1981 but finished in last place in both halves of the strike-marred season. With the Mets, he took over as manager for the last 116 games in 1983 after George Bamberger resigned, but again finished in last place. He posted a 93–133 career managerial record. He also coached for the Milwaukee Brewers (1977–80, 1985–86), Mets (1982–83, 1994–96), Seattle Mariners (1987–88), Yankees (1989, 1991–92), and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998–99). Since 2000 he has worked for the Yankees as a player development instructor. He now helps raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Bill Buckner – 1973 Topps #368

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William Joseph “Bill” Buckner  (born December 14, 1949) Despite winning a batting crown in 1980, representing the Chicago Cubs at the All-Star Game the following season and accumulating over 2,700 hits in his twenty-year career, he is best remembered for a fielding error during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, a play that has since been prominently entrenched into American sports lore. Boston was leading the heavily favored New York Mets three games to two in the 1986 World Series when Game Six of the series went into extra innings. For his part, Buckner was batting just .143 against Mets pitching, and was 0-for-5 in Game 6. When the Sox scored two runs in the top of the tenth, Boston manager John McNamara chose to have Buckner take the field in the bottom of the inning instead of bringing Stapleton in as a defensive replacement for the ailing Buckner as he had in games one, two and five. New York came back to tie the game with three straight two out singles off Calvin Schiraldi and a wild pitch by Bob Stanley. Mookie Wilson fouled off several pitches before hitting a slow roller to Buckner at first base. Aware of Wilson’s speed, Buckner tried to rush the play. As a result, the ball rolled past his glove, through his legs and into right field, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run. Buckner returned to the Red Sox in 1990 as a free agent, and received a standing ovation from the crowd during player introductions at the home opener on April 9. His return was short lived, as he retired on June 5 with a .186 batting average, one home run and three RBIs. However, that one home run was an inside-the-park roundtripper that Buckner hit on April 25, 1990, off California Angels pitcher Kirk McCaskill. It was the only inside-the-park home run of his career.
On April 8, 2008, Buckner threw out the first pitch to former teammate Dwight Evans at the Red Sox home opener as they unfurled their 2007 World Series championship banner. He received a four minute standing ovation from the sell-out crowd. After the game, when asked if he had any second thoughts about appearing at the game, he said, “I really had to forgive, not the fans of Boston, per se, but I would have to say in my heart I had to forgive the media for what they put me and my family through. So, you know, I’ve done that and I’m over that.”

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