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Milt Pappas – 1973 Topps #70

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MiltPappas_73topps#70_a Milton Steven “Milt” Pappas (born Miltiades Stergios Papastergios on May 11, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan) is a former professional baseball pitcher. A 17-year veteran, Pappas, nicknamed “Gimpy,” pitched for the Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs. Pappas pitched in 520 games, starting 465, with 209 wins, 164 losses, 43 shutouts, 1728 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA in 3186.0 innings pitched.
In 1970, the Braves pulled Pappas from their rotation after only three starts, after he compiled a 6.06 ERA and allowed six home runs. On June 23, they sold him to the Chicago Cubs, where he got another chance to prove he was still a major league starter. Pappas posted a 7–2 record with a 2.36 ERA at home and a 10–8 record with a 2.68 ERA overall. In 1971, Pappas went 17–14 with a 3.51 ERA. On September 24 of that year, against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, Pappas struck out three batters (Greg Luzinski and Don Money) on nine pitches in the fourth inning of a 6–1 loss, becoming the 10th National League pitcher and the 16th pitcher in Major League history to accomplish the nine-strike/three-strikeout half-inning. Five days later, Pappas was again part of baseball history, he was responsible for Ron Hunt’s 50th hit by pitch of the season, which broke the single-season record of 49 set by Hughie Jennings in 1896. Pappas complained to home plate umpire Ken Burkhart that the pitch had been over the plate, and that Hunt had made no effort to get out of the way. Pappas’s manager on the Cubs, Leo Durocher, had unkind words for Pappas in his memoir Nice Guys Finish Last.
On September 11, 1982, MiltPappas_73topps#70_bPappas’ wife, Carole, disappeared after leaving the couple’s home in the Farnham subdivision in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton. For five years, no sign was found of her car, clothing, or body. In 1987, almost five years to the day Mrs. Pappas disappeared, workers draining a shallow pond only four blocks from the Pappas home discovered the car Mrs. Pappas had been driving, a white and burgundy 1980 Buick, as well as her body. A DuPage County coroner’s jury ruled the cause of death as drowning. Police theorized she mistook a driveway near the pond for a road leading to her subdivision, vaulting 25–30 feet from the bank into the pond. Carole Pappas, a recovering alcoholic, may have been drinking. However, blood alcohol content could not be confirmed.

Larry Gura – 1973 Topps #501


LarryGura_73topps#501_a Lawrence Cyril Gura (born November 26, 1947, in Joliet, Illinois) a former left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1970 to 1985. He spent 16 years in the Major Leagues playing for the Chicago Cubs of the National League, and the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals, both of the American League. He was inducted into the inaugural Joliet Hall of Fame in Joliet, Illinois. He was elected to the American League All-Star team in 1980 when he had his finest season, finishing with an 18–10 record LarryGura_73topps#501_band a 2.95 ERA. Gura won in double figures for seven consecutive seasons for the Royals with 99 wins over that span. He particularly pestered his former team, the Yankees, against whom he went 11–6 in the regular season as a Royal. Gura was 3–0 against them in both 1979 and 1980, with five complete games, and another complete-game victory against them in the 1980 American League Championship Series. Gura finished with a 126–97 career record, 24 saves and an earned run average of 3.76.

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.

Ray Fosse – 1973 Topps #226


 

Raymond Earl Fosse (born April 4, 1947 in Marion, Illinois) a former professional baseball player who was a catcher in the Major Leagues. He was drafted in the first round of the 1965 amateur draft by the Cleveland Indians. Fosse also holds the distinction of being the Indians’ first ever draft pick. 1965 was the first year of the Major League Baseball Draft. He batted and threw right-handed. Ray Fosse is most famous for being bowled over by the Cincinnati Reds’ Pete Rose at home plate in the last play of the 1970 All-Star Game. Rose scored the winning run, while the collision separated Fosse’s right shoulder. The injury is what caused the downfall of Fosse’s career. In reality, Fosse played 42 games in the second half of 1970, hitting .297 and winning the American League Gold Glove Award. Rose asserted he was simply trying to win the game.
Fosse’s career was one marked by numerous injuries. In 1971, Fosse suffered more injuries, getting kicked in his right hand during a brawl against the Detroit Tigers on June 20, causing a gash that required five stitches and sidelined him for more than a week. Fosse tore a ligament in his left hand during an at bat against Denny McLain, forcing him to miss the 1971 All-Star Game. He did manage to win his second consecutive Gold Glove Award in 1971. When Cleveland pitcher Gaylord Perry won the American League Cy Young Award in 1972, he gave Fosse credit for his success saying,”I’ve got to split it up and give part, a big part to Ray Fosse. He kept pushing me in games when I didn’t have good stuff. He’d come out and show me that big fist of his when I wasn’t bearing down the way he thought I should.”
In a 12 year career, Fosse played in 924 games, accumulating 758 hits in 2957 at bats for a .256 career batting average along with 61 home runs and 324 runs batted in. He ended his career with a .986 fielding percentage. Fosse led American League catchers in 1970 with 854 putouts, 48 base runners caught stealing and in range factor (7.81). In 1971 he led the league with 73 assists, and in 1973, he led American League catchers in baserunners caught stealing and in caught stealing percentage. Fosse was a member of two World Series Champion clubs. The 1973 and 1974 A’s, and also a member of the Seattle Mariners team that began playing in 1977. He won Gold Glove Awards in 1970 and 1971. Fosse was named to the 100 Greatest Cleveland Indians in 2001.

Del Unser – 1973 Topps #247

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ImageDelbert Bernard Unser (born December 9, 1944 in Decatur, Illinois) is a retired center fielder and utility player who had a 15-year career from 1968 to 1982. Unser played for the Washington Senators from 1968 to 1971 and the Cleveland Indians in 1972. He also played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1973 to 1974, the New York Mets from 1975 to 1976, the Montreal Expos from 1976 to 1978, and again for the Phillies from 1979 to 1982. In 1977 he began to be used primarily as a pinch-hitter, Imageand also split his time on the field between the outfield and first base. Unser led the American League in triples in 1969 with eight. He had one 5-hit game, in which he hit four singles and a home run against the Oakland Athletics on August 20, 1968. Unser’s career totals include 1,799 games played, 1,334 hits, 87 home runs, 481 Runs batted in, and a lifetime batting average of .258. Unser, along with Lee Lacy, is one of two players to hit three pinch-hit home runs in consecutive at-bats. Currently, Unser is a scout for the Phillies. His father is retired MLB catcher Al Unser.

Clyde Wright – 1973 Topps #373

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Clyde Wright (born February 20, 1941 in Jefferson City, Tennessee), He pitched for the California Angels (1966–73), Milwaukee Brewers (1974) and Texas Rangers (1975). He also pitched three seasons in Japan for the Yomiuri Giants (1976–78). He is the father of Jaret Wright. Wright was a star pitcher at Carson-Newman College, whom he pitched to the 1965 NAIA Baseball World Series title. During that World Series, Wright struck out 22 batters in one game, an NAIA World Series record.

Wright defeated the Minnesota Twins on a four-hitter in his Major League debut (June 15, 1966). He was a spot starter for the Angels in his first two seasons, and in 1968 won 10 games while losing six, pitching mostly in relief.
In 1970 he had the best season of his career. He won 22 games to become only the second 20-game winner in franchise history and established a career-low 2.83 ERA, which earned him the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award. Wright also no-hit the Oakland Athletics 4-0 at Anaheim Stadium on July 3 of that year, the first no-hitter ever pitched in that stadium. He almost lost the no-hitter in the 7th inning on Reggie Jackson’s 400-foot shot to straight-away center field, which was caught by Jay Johnstone just in front of the wall. The day was doubly memorable for Wright: in a pre-game ceremony, he had been inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame.
During a 13-year baseball career, Wright won 100 games, 667 strikeouts, and a 3.50 earned run average.

Whitey Lockman – 1973 Topps #81

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ImageCarl Walter “Whitey” Lockman (July 25, 1926 – March 17, 2009) was a player, coach, manager and front office executive in American Major League Baseball.
On October 3, 1951, Lockman scored the tying run, just ahead of Bobby Thomson, on Thomson’s home run that gave the New York Giants the National League championship – baseball’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” Lockman’s one-out double against the Brooklyn Dodgers had scored Alvin Dark with the Giants’ first run of the inning, and made the score 4–2, Brooklyn. His hit knocked Dodger pitcher Don Newcombe out of the game, and, on the play, Giant baserunner Don Mueller injured his ankle sliding into third base. While Mueller  was being carried off the field to be replaced by a pinch runner, Dodger manager Chuck Dressen called on relief pitcher Ralph Branca, whose second pitch was hit by Thomson into the Polo Grounds’ lower left field stands for a game-winning, three-run homer.
Lockman’s coaching career began immediately after his playing days ended, as he joined the Reds’ staff in 1960 under skipper Fred Hutchinson. In 1961, when his old teammate Dark became manager of the Giants, Lockman became his third base coach, serving through 1964. ImageLockman then joined the Chicago Cubs as a minor league manager, coach, and, then, Director of Player Development. In July 1972, he succeeded his old mentor, Leo Durocher, as Cubs’ manager and the revitalized Cubbies won 39 of 65 games to improve two places in the standings. But losing marks in 1973 and into 1974 cost Lockman his job; he was relieved of his duties July 24, 1974 and moved back into the Chicago front office, serving as General Manager from late 1973 to late 1975. Lockman later was a player development official and special assignment scout for the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins. Lockman finished with a career major league managing record of 157–162 (.492).

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