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Category Archives: Third Base

Jose Pagan – 1973 Topps #659

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ImageJosé Antonio Pagán Rodríguez (May 5, 1935 – June 7, 2011) was a Puerto Rican Major League Baseball player. Pagán made his major league debut with the San Francisco Giants on August 8, 1959. He played for the Giants until 1965, then was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1973 he played his final career games with the Philadelphia Phillies. Pagán played for a total of 15 years before retiring. His best full season statistically came with the Giants in 1962, when he hit .259 and drove in a career high 57 runs. He had 73 runs scored that year, which also was a career high, while collecting 150 hits for the only time in his career. Despite playing part-time for the Pirates from 1966–1970, Pagán batted in the .260s twice and the .280s twice out of those five years, only hitting under .264 in 1968 when he only had 163 at bats. During that time instead of playing short-stop, he played mostly third base and left field, but also was used as a key “spare part” for the team, playing games at every position in the infield, even one at catcher in 1967 for one inning.
Pagán appeared in two World Series in his career; first at the age of 27 with the Giants, when he was on the losing side of the 1962 World Series against the New York Yankees. Despite the loss, he hit .368 with a home run in the seven-game series. With the Pirates in 1971, after losing the NLCS in 1970, he won his only world series and became a hero of the deciding game. In game seven of the 1971 World Series between the Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles,Image in the top of the 8th inning, Pagán hit a double which scored Willie Stargell. This proved to be the game’s winning run. After his playing career ended, Pagán was a Pittsburgh Pirates coach from 1974 to 1978. He also managed teams in the Puerto Rican Winter League for several seasons, and lived in Puerto Rico before moving his family to Florida in 1999. Pagán died June 7, 2011, at his home in Sebring, Florida, a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 76, and was survived by his wife and two sons. He was held in such esteem by the Pittsburgh organization that a moment of silence was observed before the Pirates game with the Arizona Diamondbacks at PNC Park that night.

Doug Rader – 1973 Topps #76

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ImageDouglas Lee Rader (born July 30, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois), nicknamed “The Red Rooster”, is a former third baseman in Major League Baseball who was known primarily for his defensive ability, winning five straight Gold Glove Awards from 1970 to 1974. Rader’s career lasted from 1967 to 1977. He played for the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, and Toronto Blue Jays. He later managed the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, and California Angels between 1983 and 1991. Also nicknamed “Rojo”, ImageRader earned his nickname “The Red Rooster” from the thick head of red hair which always protruded from under his cap.

Graig Nettles – 1973 Topps #498

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ImageGraig Nettles (born August 20, 1944), is an American former Major League Baseball third baseman. During a 22-year baseball career, he played for the Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos.  Nettles was one of the best defensive third basemen of all time, and despite his relatively low career batting average, he was an excellent offensive contributor, setting an American League record for career home runs by a third baseman. As a part of four pennant-winning Yankee teams, Nettles enjoyed his best season in 1977 when he won the Gold Glove Award and had career-highs in home runs (37) and runs batted in (107) in leading the Yankees to the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.    As of 2010, Nettles holds the single-season Major League record for assists by a third baseman, Imageand is tied with Brooks Robinson for second-most all-time. His 412 assists in 1971 broke the record of 405 shared by Harlond Clift in 1937 and Robinson in 1967. In 1973, his first year as a New York Yankee, he recorded 410 assists, breaking Clete Boyer’s franchise record of 396 in 1962; Robinson would tie this mark in 1974. To date, Nettles and Robinson have four of the six 400-assist seasons by a third baseman in Major League history. Nettles is mentioned in the video for Bruce Springsteen’s 1985 hit Glory Days. At the end of the video, Springsteen’s character, a pitcher, tells a teen that he lost an imaginary game playing against the San Diego Padres because “Nettles got me, bottom of the ninth.”

Don Money – 1973 Topps #386

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   Donald Wayne Money (born June 7, 1947 in Washington, D.C., United States) He currently serves as the special instructor of player development for the Milwaukee Brewers. Money spent most of his career as a third baseman and was a four-time All-Star. Known as one of the best defensive third basemen of the era, he batted and threw right-handed. He played for the Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers. He briefly played for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in Japan for one month at the end of his career. In a 16-season career, Money hit .261 with 176 home runs and 729 RBIs in 1,720 games. He had a lifetime on-base percentage of .328 and a .406 slugging percentage. He also had 80 career stolen bases with 798 runs. He had 1,623 hits in 6,215 at bats.
On April 10, 1971 he hit the first ever home run at Veterans Stadium. On July 7, 1974, he set the major league record for errorless games at third base, with 78. He would go on to complete an 86-game streak with no errors in 257 chances. On April 10, 1976, Money hit a grand slam off Dave Pagan of the New York Yankees, only to see it taken back because the first base umpire had called time before the pitch was delivered.
After retiring from MLB, he contracted with the Kintetsu Buffaloes in the Japanese Professional League. Money had watched many games of the Yomiuri Giants and noted the large crowds and their beautiful stadium. Kintetsu had a dilapidated stadium, however, and rarely drew much of a crowd. The team put Money up in a cockroach-ridden apartment rather than a house in a tree-lined setting as he felt he had been promised. After one month Money packed up his family and moved back to his farm in Vineland, New Jersey.

Mike Schmidt – 1976 Topps #480

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Michael Jack Schmidt (born September 27, 1949) is a Hall of Fame third baseman popularly considered among the greatest third basemen in the history of Major League Baseball. He played his entire career for the Philadelphia Phillies. Schmidt had an unusual batting stance, turning his back somewhat to the pitcher and waving his posterior while waiting for the pitch. By standing far back in the batter’s box, he made it impossible to jam him by pitching inside. Schmidt was one of the best athletes of his time; teammate Pete Rose once said, “To have his body, I’d trade him mine and my wife’s, and I’d throw in some cash.” Schmidt’s best season may have been the strike shortened 1981 season. His 31 home runs were seven more than anyone else in the league. He also led the NL in runs scored, RBIs, total bases and walks, and sett personal highs in batting average, on-base average and slugging average. He won his second consecutive MVP award, this time with 96% of the vote. Injuries to Schmidt’s rotator cuff caused him to miss the last month and a half of the 1988 season. He returned healthy for the 1989 season, however, after a poor start, Schmidt suddenly chose to announce his retirement in San Diego, on May 29. He demonstrated little emotion on the field, and was known as “Captain Cool” by many in Philadelphia sports circles, however, Schmidt surprised many with an emotional, and occasionally tearful, retirement speech. His last game was May 28, 1989, against the San Francisco Giants.

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.

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.”

Graig Nettles – 1974 Topps #251


Graig Nettles (born August 20, 1944 in San Diego, California), nicknamed “Puff”, is a former Major League Baseball third baseman. During a 22-year baseball career, he played for the Minnesota Twins (1967–1969), Cleveland Indians (1970–1972), New York Yankees (1973–1983), San Diego Padres (1984–1986), Atlanta Braves (1987) and Montreal Expos (1988). Nettles was one of the best defensive third basemen of all time, and despite his relatively low career batting average, he was an excellent offensive contributor, setting an American League record for career home runs by a third baseman. As a part of four pennant-winning Yankee teams, Nettles enjoyed his best season in 1977 when he won the Gold Glove Award and had career-highs in home runs (37) and runs batted in (107) in leading the Yankees to the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. His unusual name derives from his mother’s dislike of the names Greg and Craig – and her combining the two to produce ‘Graig’. “My Dad was away at the war, so he didn’t have any say”.The name also led to confusion for baseball card companies; the error-prone inaugural 1981 Fleer baseball card set includes an error card where his name is spelled “Graig” on the front, and “Craig” on the back. On September 7, 1974, Nettles, then with the New York Yankees, was caught using a bat that had six superballs inside it. He said that he had received the bat from a Yankees fan in Chicago and did not know that the bat had been altered.

Bucky Dent – 1974 Topps #582


Russell Earl “Bucky” Dent  (born Russell Earl O’Dey; November 25, 1951), is a former American Major League Baseball player and manager. He earned two World Series rings as the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees in 1977 and 1978, and was voted the World Series MVP in 1978. Dent is most famous for his home run in a tie-breaker game against the Boston Red Sox at the end of the 1978 season. Dent is widely remembered for hitting a three-run homer that gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the 1978 AL East division playoff game against the Boston Red Sox. It was notable because he was not known as a power hitter, having hit just 40 home runs in 12 years in the major leagues, and occupying the ninth spot in the batting order. The Yankees went on to win the game 5-4, securing the division title in the process. Dent batted .417 in the 1978 World Series, earning Series Most Valuable Player honors as the Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, four games to two. In 1979, Dent posed for a pin-up poster. That year he also appeared in the TV movie Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, portraying a Cowboys wide receiver who was the love interest of Jane Seymour’s character. He appeared, wearing a swimsuit, in the September 1983 issue of Playgirl magazine.

Wade Boggs – 1991 Donruss #178

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Wade Anthony Boggs (born June 15, 1958) is an American former professional baseball third baseman. He spent his 18-year baseball career primarily with the Boston Red Sox, but also played for the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. His hitting in the 1980s and 1990s made him a perennial contender for American League batting titles, in much the same way as his National League contemporary Tony Gwynn. Boggs was elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. With 12 straight All-Star appearances, Boggs is third only to Brooks Robinson and George Brett in number of consecutive appearances as a third baseman. His finest season was 1987, when he set career highs in home runs (24), RBI (89), and slugging percentage (.588). He also batted .363 and had a .461 on-base percentage that year, leading the league in both statistics. In 1999, he ranked number 95 on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

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