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Category Archives: Outfield

Joe Lovitto – 1973 Topps #276


JoeLavitto_73topps#276_a Joseph Lovitto, Jr. (January 6, 1951 – May 19, 2001) was a center fielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Texas Rangers. He was a switch-hitter and threw right-handed, standing 6 feet tall and weighing 185 pounds. Lovitto was a competent outfielder, had blazing speed and batted over .300 in his minor league career, but never fulfilled expectations at the Major League level. One of his former managers, Billy Martin, wrote in his autobiography that Lovitto could have had a great career if not for injuries. Lovitto started in center field on Opening Day of 1972 in the Texas Rangers’ JoeLavitto_73topps#276_binaugural season. In his rookie year he hit .224 with 19 runs batted in and 13 stolen bases in 117 games played. Then he lost almost the 1973 season with an injured leg, appearing in only 26 games. The following year he hit .223 in 113 games, but in 1975 was put on the disabled list with a variety of major injuries and appeared in just 50 games. Before the 1976 season, he was sent to the New York Mets in exchange for outfielder Gene Clines but was released during spring training. In a four-season career, Lovitto was a .216 hitter with four home runs, 53 RBI, and 22 stolen bases in 306 games. Lovitto died from cancer in Arlington, Texas, at the age of 50.

Cesar Geronimo – 1973 Topps #156


CesarGeronimo_73topps#156_a César Francisco Gerónimo Zorrilla (born March 11, 1948), known as César Gerónimo, is a former outfielder in Major League Baseball, who was a member of the famed Big Red Machine of the Cincinnati Reds during the 1970s. He batted and threw left-handed. In 1967, Gerónimo was signed by the New York Yankees, who tried to make him a pitcher. Two years later he made his major league debut with the Houston Astros. After the 1971 season, he went to the Cincinnati Reds in an eight-player deal. Among them, Joe Morgan. A winner of four consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1974 to 1977, Gerónimo was the outstanding defensive center fielder of five divisional championship series and the 1975-76 World Series Champion Cincinnati Reds.CesarGeronimo_73topps#156_b In the former Series, he caught Carl Yastrzemski’s fly ball for the final out. He played the last three seasons of his career with the Kansas City Royals.
In his fifteen seasons, Gerónimo batted .258, with 51 home runs and 392 RBI, 460 runs scored, 977 hits, 161 doubles, 50 triples and 82 stolen bases. He was also the 3,000th strikeout victim of both Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan. “I was just in the right place at the right time,” he joked.
After retiring he worked for the Japanese Hiroshima Carp, as a coach in their Dominican baseball academy. He currently resides with his family in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In July 2008 he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

Bob Tolan – 1973 Topps #335


BobTolan_73topps#335_a Robert Tolan (born November 19, 1945) is a former center and right fielder in Major League Baseball. Tolan, who batted and threw left-handed, played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates. He also played one season in Japan for the Nankai Hawks. Tolan was a reserve outfielder during his years with the Cardinals, where he won a World Series title in 1967. He also played on the 1968 National League champions, losing to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series in seven games, after leading three games to one. The day after the final game of this Series Tolan was traded to the Cincinnati Reds along with reliever Wayne Granger for veteran outfielder Vada Pinson. As their centerfielder, often batting second behind Pete Rose and in front of Alex Johnson in the Reds lineup, Tolan in 1969 hit .305 and established career highs in home runs and runs batted in. In the first year both leagues were split into two divisions, the Reds finished third in the National League West, four games behind the division-winning Atlanta Braves. The “Big Red Machine”, which also featured future Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Tony Pérez, was just beginning to take shape.
In 1970, Tolan batted a career high .316 with 16 home runs and 80 RBIs, and led the National League in stolen bases with 57 for a Reds team that won theBobTolan_73topps#335_b National League West title for their first postseason berth since the 1961 World Series. The Reds swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLCS in three games. In the second game, Tolan scored all three runs in a 3-1 victory, including hitting a fifth-inning home run off starter Luke Walker. However, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Reds in the World Series in five games. Tolan went 4-for-19 in the Series, including a home run off Mike Cuellar in Game Two.
Tolan played professionally in Japan in 1978. He was also a coach for the Padres from 1980-1983. During the strike of 1981, Tolan was dispatched to Walla Walla, Washington, where he was Tony Gwynn’s first hitting coach. Tolan’s cousin, Eddie Tolan, was a sprinter who won two Gold Medals in the 1932 Summer Olympics.

Vic Davalillo – 1973 Topps #163


Víctor José Davalillo Romero (July 31, 1936 in Cabimas, Zulia), is a Venezuelan former professional baseball player. Davalillo batted and threw left-handed. Davalillo was a leadoff hitter known for his speed, base running and defensive ability. Later in his career, he became a valuable utility player and a record-setting pinch hitter. Davalillo also had an exceptional career in the Venezuelan Winter League where he is the all-time leader in total base hits and in career batting average.
In 1965, Davalillo led the league in batting at mid-season with a .345 batting average, earning him a place as the starting center fielder for the American League team in the 1965 All-Star Game. He ended the 1965 season with a .301 batting average, third-best in the American League behind Tony Oliva and Carl Yastrzemski, the only other players to break the .300 mark that year. Davalillo had an off year in 1966 and, the Indians began playing him only when they faced right handed pitchers. In 1967, he hit for a .302 average against right handed pitchers but, only managed a .188 average against left handers, for a .287 average overall.
Davalillo dropped to a .239 average on June 15, 1968 when the Indians traded him to the California Angels for former All-Star Jimmie Hall. He went on to lead the Angels with a .298 batting average after the trade, finishing the season with a .277 average overall, the sixth highest average in the American League. In an era dominated by pitching, Yastrzemski was the only player in the American League to hit for an average higher than .300 in 1968
At the age of 41 in 1978, Davalillo hit for a .312 average as a pinch hitter for the Dodgers as they once again claimed the National League pennant before, losing to the New York Yankees for a second consecutive year in the 1978 World Series. Davalillo finished out his major league career as a utility player and pinch hitter for the Dodgers. For the last four seasons of his career, he was the oldest player in the National League until retiring at the end of the 1980 season at the age of 43. Davalillo returned to play in the Mexican League well into his late 40s. In 1987, the ballpark in Cabimas, Venezuela was renamed Estadio Víctor Davalillo. The Most Valuable Player award in the Venezuelan Winter League is also named after him. Davalillo was inducted into the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.

Rennie Stennett – 1973 Topps #348


Renaldo Antonio Stennett Porte (April 5, 1951, in Colón, Panama), is a former second baseman. Stennett played with the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants. He batted and threw right-handed. A World Series champion with the Pirates in 1979, Stennett shares the major league record for most hits in a game and was a member of the first all-black starting lineup in the major leagues.
In an 11-season career, Stennett was a .274 batter, with 41 home runs and 432 RBIs in 1,237 games. On September 1, 1971, Pittsburgh faced the Phillies with the first major league all-black starting lineup. Stennett led off the game for the Pirates, who won 10–7. In his first three seasons with Pittsburgh, Stennett was used at shortstop and second base. He also played at all three outfield positions, with an average arm and great reaction speed. He showed progress in 1973, when he hit 10 home runs and 55 RBIs in 128 games. Finally, in 1974, Stennett took over the starting second base job, beating out Dave Cash and Willie Randolph. Batting from the leadoff spot, he responded with a .291 average, 84 runs, 56 RBI, and a career-high 196 hits. The following season, Stennett became the only player in the 20th century to go seven-for-seven in a nine-inning game. On September 16, 1975, Stennett went 7-for-7 as Pittsburgh beat the Cubs, 22–0. Pittsburgh also set a major league record for the largest winning score in a shutout game in the modern era. He was the third player to collect seven hits in a single game, and the second to do it in a nine-inning game.
On August 21, 1977, Stennett was batting .336 for the season, but he broke his right leg while sliding into second base. He was out for the year and had fewer than the required number of at bats or plate appearances, falling short of qualifying for the batting title, won by teammate Dave Parker. In that season, Stennett collected a career-high 28 stolen bases. A free agent at the end of the 1979 season Stennett, was signed by the Giants to a five year, $3 million dollar contract in what would be one of the first “busts” of the free agent era. After two years with San Francisco, he was released in April of 1982, with three years remaining on and $2 million left on the contract which the Giants still had to pay him as the contract was guaranteed.

Alex Johnson – 1973 Topps #425

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ImageAlexander Johnson (born December 7, 1942, in Helena, Arkansas is a former professional baseball player. He was an outfielder and designated hitter over parts of 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, California Angels, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers. While playing for Cincinnati in 1968 and 1969, he batted over .300 both times, finishing 4th and 6th, in batting average in the National League. However, in both years, he led National League outfielders in errors. Following the 1969 season, Johnson was traded with Chico Ruiz to the California Angels for pitchers Pedro Borbon‚ Jim McGlothlin, and Vern Geishert. ImageJohnson had his best season in 1970, winning the American League batting title by a fraction of a percentage point over Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox, although he led league outfielders in errors and was 2nd in grounding out into double plays. He played with 4 other teams before retiring, always with a potent bat but being a liability in the field. Johnson turned down many football scholarships to pursue his dream of baseball. His brother, Ron, was a running back for the New York Giants. After Johnson retired he lived in Detroit and took over Johnson Trucking Service, which was founded by his father, Arthur Johnson, in the 1940s.

Ike Brown – 1973 Topps #633

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ImageIsaac (Ike) Brown (April 13, 1942 – May 17, 2001) was an infielder/outfielder in the Negro leagues and a utilityman in Major League Baseball for the Detroit Tigers from 1969 through 1974. He batted and threw right-handed. In a six-season major league career, Brown posted a .256 batting average with 20 home runs and 65 RBI in 280 games played. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Brown was obtained by Detroit from the Negro league Kansas City Monarchs in 1961. He had originally signed with the Cardinals for $800. Brown spent eight years in the minor leagues, making it to the majors in 1969 after hitting .356 of that season for Triple-A Toledo and hitting two home runs against the Tigers during an exhibition game. His first major league hit was a home run at Yankee Stadium.Image
Career highlights include:
2 home runs and 4 RBIs against George Brunet and the Washington Senators (May 23, 1970)
six 3-hit games…the most impressive being two singles and a home run, good for 4 RBIs, vs. the California Angels (May 12, 1971)
hit a combined .400 (20-for-50), with 7 home runs, against All-Stars Jim Kaat, Gary Peters, and Wilbur Wood
At the time of his retirement from the Tigers in 1974, Brown was one of the last alumni of the Negro leagues (along with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays) still active in Major League Baseball. Brown died from cancer in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 59.

Clarence Gaston – 1973 Topps #159

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ImageClarence Edwin “Cito” Gaston (born March 17, 1944) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder and manager. His major league career as a player lasted from 1967–1978, most notably for the San Diego Padres and the Atlanta Braves. His managerial career was with the Toronto Blue Jays where he became the first African-American manager in Major League history to win a World Series title. Primarily a center fielder, Gaston began his decade-long playing career in 1967 with the Atlanta Braves, appearing in nine games. The following year he was selected by the San Diego Padres in the expansion draft, first playing for them in 1969. He had his best individual season in 1970, when he batted Image.318 with 29 home runs, 92 runs scored and 93 RBI, and was selected to the National League All-Star team. The rest of Gaston’s career did not live up to his All-Star season success. Gaston never hit more than 17 home runs or knocked in more than 61 runs in any season with the Padres (until 1974) or the Braves (from 1975 until 1978).
Gaston was the manager for two American League All-Star teams since he was the manager of the championship American League franchise in 1992 and 1993. He was criticized for selecting six Blue Jays to the 1993 roster, but was unapologetic, stating all six were World Champions and two were future Hall of Famers.

Ted Ford – 1973 Topps # 299

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ImageTheodore Henry Ford (born February 7, 1947 in Vineland, New Jersey) is a former right-handed Major League Baseball outfielder who played for the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers from 1970 to 1973. Drafted by the Indians 11th overall in the 1966 amateur draft, Ford began his professional career with the Dubuque Packers. In 71 games with them in 1966, he hit .263 with six home runs and 25 RBI in 262 at-bats. The following year, 1967, he played for the Pawtucket Indians. He hit only .210 in 443 at-bats with them. He missed the entire 1968 and 1969 seasons due to military service. He fought in the Vietnam War.
In 1970, he mostly played for the Wichita Aeros, hitting .326 with 12 home runs and 57 RBI in 383 at-bats with them. However, he started the season with the big league club. On April 7, he made his major league debut with the Indians. Facing star pitcher Dave McNally of the Baltimore Orioles, he went 0–2 with a walk in his first game. He spent time in both the majors and minors in 1971 as well. In the majors, he hit .194 in 196 at-bats. In the minors – playing for the Aeros again – he hit .330 in 176 at-bats.
On April 3, 1972, Ford was traded to the Texas Rangers for Roy Foster and Tommy McCraw. ImageHe played in 129 games with the Rangers that year, hitting 14 home runs and driving 50 runs in in 429 at-bats. His batting average was .235. Ford spent nine games with the Denver Bears that year as well, hitting .222 in 36 at-bats. Ford was traded back to the Indians on May 10, 1973 with Dick Bosman for Steve Dunning. He appeared in only 11 big league games that season, hitting .225 in 40 at-bats. He played his final game on September 29. Although his major league career was over after 1973, he was still involved in notable trades after that. On April 24, 1974, for example, he was traded back to the Rangers for Charlie Hudson.
Overall, Ford hit .219 in 240 major league games. In 711 at-bats, he hit 17 home runs and drove 68 runs in.

Jim Northrup – 1973 Topps #168

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ImageJames Thomas Northrup (November 24, 1939 – June 8, 2011), nicknamed the “Silver Fox” due to his prematurely graying hair, was a Major League Baseball outfielder and left-handed batter who played for the Detroit Tigers (1964–1974), Montreal Expos (1974) and Baltimore Orioles (1974–75).
Northrup had another solid season for the Tigers in 1969, as he raised his batting average to .295 (9th in the AL) and had career highs with 25 home runs and 31 doubles (6th in the AL). On August 28, 1969, Northrup became the first Tiger since Ty Cobb to hit 6-for-6, finishing the game with a 13th-inning game-winning home run over the Tiger Stadium roof. In 1970, the Tigers dropped to 4th place in their last season under manager Mayo Smith. The Tigers were an aging squad when Billy Martin took over, and Martin sought to light a fire under them. Martin turned the Tigers back into contenders in 1971 and 1972.
In the decisive 5th game of the 1972 American League Championship Series, the mutual dislike between Martin and Northrup may have affected Martin’s judgment. In the 9th inning, the Tigers were trailing 2-1, and Norm Cash was on base. Northrup had one hit already off Vida Blue, but Martin used Mickey Stanley to pinch-hit for Northrup. Stanley hit into a fielder’s choice, and the Tigers lost the ALCS. Northrup remained bitter about Martin’s decision.
In 1973, a 33-year-old Northrup hit .307 –- Imagethe highest batting average of his career. Despite his solid hitting, Martin kept Northup on the bench for part of the year. Northrup had played in at least 130 games for the Tigers for 7 straight years, but in 1973 he played in only 119 games. Martin was fired by the Tigers before the 1973 season was over, but Northrup’s time with the Tigers was also nearing an end.
Northrup died on June 8, 2011 from a seizure. Longtime friend Bill Wischman said Northrup had been recently admitted to an assisted living facility in Holly, Michigan, 20 miles from his home in Highland. Northrup had been in poor health for some time and had been at the home for about a month because of Alzheimer’s disease.

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