Sunday, September 25, 2016

1969 Custom Cards

A few years ago, John Hogan at the "Cards That Never Were" blog made a batch of custom baseball and football cards for me at my request.  I noticed that John did not include these images on his own blog, so I am posting them here so they can be appreciated by all. These are cards where the player was either missing, traded during the season, or just to upgrade a player from a Rookie Stars card to a solo card.

You may have already seen the 1967, 1968, and 1971 football cards or the 1966, 1967, and 1968 baseball cards he made for me on the blogs for those sets.


Tony Horton played for the Red Sox from 1964-67, and for the Indians from 1967-70. Topps never made a card for Horton, despite the fact that he was the Indian's regular first baseman and top slugger from mid-1967 until his retirement in August 1970.


After 5 minor-league seasons, Dave Watkins finally made the majors as the Phillies' backup catcher. It was to be his final pro season.


Lowell Palmer and Al Raffo debuted with the Phillies in 1969. "Shades" Palmer pitched for the Phils from 1969-71, and also with the Cardinals ('72) and Padres ('74). Raffo led the team in saves, but never played in the majors after '69, and never had a Topps card.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ron Hansen (#566)

Ron Hansen was the White Sox’ starting shortstop from 1963 to 1967. After spending the first 4 months of 1968 with the Senators, he returned to the Pale Hose in August, this time as a utility infielder. 
(I was intending to post his 1966 card instead, but this photo was more interesting, though the card depicts him as a utility player.)

Hansen was signed by the Orioles in 1956. He played in the minors from 1956-59 (missing the ‘57 season because of sciatica).

Ron took over the Orioles’ starting shortstop job on Opening Day 1960, starting 149 games and winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. He also made his only All-Star team that season. He was Baltimore’s starting shortstop the following season also, but missed much of the 1962 season while in military service.


In January 1963, Hansen was traded to the White Sox (along with pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, 3rd baseman Pete Ward, and outfielder Dave Nicholson) for shortstop Luis Aparicio and outfielder Al Smith. Hansen replaced Aparicio in the Sox’ lineup, manning the SS position from 1963 to 1967 (although he missed all but the first 4 weeks of the 1966 season due to back surgery).

The White Sox re-acquired Aparicio from the Orioles after the 1967 season, so Hansen was dealt to the Washington Senators in February 1968 (with pitchers Dennis Higgins and Steve Jones) for pitchers Bob Priddy and Buster Narum, and infielder Tim Cullen.

After starting 77 of the first 101 games for the Nats, Ron was returned to the White Sox in exchange for Cullen. The trade occurred just TWO WEEKS after Hansen pulled off the first unassisted triple play in 41 years! (Thanks for nuttin’)

With Aparicio still on board, Hansen was relegated to utility infielder status with the Sox for the remainder of 1968 and all of 1969, occasional starting games at 2nd base or 3rd base.

Ron was sold to the Yankees in February 1970, and was a role player with them for 2 seasons, getting his release in February 1972. He caught on with the Royals in early April, but was released in late-June, having only played in 16 games during the first 3 months of the season.

After his playing career, Hansen was a coach, minor-league manager, and scout.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Aurelio Rodriguez (#653)

Here is the rookie card for Angels’ 3rd baseman Aurelio Rodriguez. More accurately, it is the rookie card for Angels’ batboy Leonard Garcia, as Topps committed their biggest blunder since featuring Ken Hubbs (the Cubs’ former 2nd baseman who had been deceased for 2 years) on Dick Ellsworth’s 1966 card.

Blogger/custom-card-maker John from the "Cards That Never Were" blog has done what Topps failed to correct, with not only a card picturing the original A-Rod, but also the same card below with the batboy’s name.



This Angels’ post is going to break up the string of Pirates cards on my sidebar which I recently noticed, and which was entirely coincidental. (I thought about making a Pirates post to my 1970 blog before this new 1969 post, but then it wouldn’t have been all coincidental.)


Rodriguez began his professional career in the Mexican League in 1965, and was purchased by the Angels in 1966. He made his major-league debut at age 19 with the Angels in September 1967.

In 1968, incumbent 3rd baseman Paul Schaal started 56 of the first 58 games at 3rd (1 start by Rodriguez), but was beaned on June 13th and missed the rest of the season. Aurelio started 61 of the final 104 games at the hot corner, himself missing the entire month of August.

Schaal was lost to the Royals in the expansion draft, so Rodriguez became the team’s full-time 3rd baseman until late April 1970, when he and outfielder Rick Reichart were traded to the Senators for 3rd baseman Ken McMullen.

After the 1970 season, he was flipped to the Tigers in an 8-player trade, with shortstop Ed Brinkman and pitchers Joe Coleman and Jim Hannan accompanying him to Detroit in exchange for pitchers Denny McLain and Norm McRae, 3rd baseman Don Wert, and outfielder Elliot Maddox. A-Rod was the Tigers’ regular 3rd-sacker for the next 9 seasons, winning his only Gold Glove in 1976. (Hmm… I’m somewhat surprised to learn today that he was never on an All-Star team.)

He spent the last 4 seasons of his career (1980-83) bouncing around to the Padres, Yankees, Blue Jays (never playing for Toronto), White Sox, Orioles, and back to the White Sox. He was primarily a bench player in those years, with his only significant playing time coming with the White Sox in 1982.

Rodriguez was granted free agency after the 1983 season, but there were no takers. He returned to the Mexican Leagues as a player from 1984-85, and as a manager from 1985-99.

Like the only other two major league players named Aurelio, Rodriguez was killed in a car accident. He was struck by a car while walking the streets of Detroit in 2000, at age 52.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Bob Moose (#409)

Here is Bob Moose on his first solo card (having appeared on a Pirates Rookies card in the 1968 set).

Moose was signed by the Pirates in 1965, and pitched in the minors for 3 seasons before making his major-league debut for the Pirates with 2 games in September 1967.


Bob joined the staff at the start of 1968, splitting his appearances between starting and relieving for his first two seasons with the Bucs. The Pirates had moved on from long-time starters Bob Friend and Vern Law in recent years, and would soon say goodbye to Tommie Sisk and Al McBean, before settling on a younger rotation of Steve Blass, Dock Ellis, Moose, and the not-so-young Bob Veale.

Moose compiled a 14-3 record in 1969 (leading the league with a .824 winning percentage. He also notched a 2.91 ERA and no-hit the eventual World Champion Mets that season.

Bob was primarily a starter from 1970-73, collecting 11, 11, 13, and 12 wins over that time. He pitched in the NLCS in ’70, ’71, and ’72, and pitched in 3 games in the 1971 World Series (although with no decisions).

In 1974 he was limited to 7 games due to a blood clot that required surgery and the removal of a rib.

Moose played full seasons in ’75 and ’76, but was almost exclusively a reliever during those years. He led the team with 10 saves in 53 games in 1976.

Moose was killed in a car accident one week after the end of the 1976 season (on his 29th birthday).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Final Card: Lee Elia

It’s been awhile since I’ve featured a player’s final card on this blog, and there are about 20 more to go. (The “Final Card” series has long been finished on my 1966, 1967, and 1968 blogs.) 

Lee Elia (#312) had a brief and uneventful playing career in Chicago (1966 with the Sox, and 1968 with the Cubs).

Elia was signed by his hometown Phillies in 1958, and played 6 seasons (1959-64) in their farm system (the last 3 years at the AAA level). After the 1964 season he and outfielder Danny Cater were traded to the White Sox for veteran pitcher Ray Herbert.


Lee spent another season in the minors, then made his major-league debut in late-April 1966 with the White Sox. Although playing some games in the minors that season, he was with Chicago for most of the year, and made 64 starts at shortstop, including 48 consecutive starts from 5/28 to 7/9. (Ron Hansen began the season starting the first 23 games at short, then didn’t play again for the rest of the season because of a back injury. The team filled in with Al Weis, then Elia, and then for the final 3 months, mostly Jerry Adair with a few starts by Elia.)

With Hansen back in the saddle in 1967, Elia was back in the minors for the entire season, playing shortstop first for Indianapolis, then following his purchase by the Cubs, for Tacoma.

Lee’s 2nd and final season in the majors was a non-factor, as he played in 15 games scattered throughout the 1968 season, mostly as a pinch-hitter. He also played in triple-A that year.

He played only 20 games in the minors in 1969 for the Cubs and Yankees, then didn’t play again until 16 games in 1973 for the Phillies’ AAA team. That would be his final season as a player.

After his playing career Elia managed in the Phillies’ organization for a few seasons, then was the Phillies’ bench coach from 1980-81. He followed Dallas Green to Chicago after the 1981 season and managed the Cubs in 1982 and 1983. Returning to the Phillies as a coach for 1985-87, he also managed the team in ’87 and ’88. He subsequently held various coaching and scouting jobs with the Phillies and others.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mack Jones (#625)

I first knew of Mack Jones as the Braves’ center fielder in 1967. That would be his last season with the Braves however. He was traded to the Reds prior to 1968, and moved on to the Expos in 1969. His card is in the 7th series, so he is photographed in the new Montreal duds.

Jones was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1958, and played all of 1958-60 in the minors, while also playing parts of 1961-63 with the Braves.

He made his major-league debut in July 1961, starting 19 straight games in center field. He stuck around with Milwaukee until mid-August, when he was returned to the minors.


In 1962 he was the Braves’ starting right fielder for 84 of the first 86 games (moving Hank Aaron over to center field). After another week as the starting center fielder, he was returned to the minors for the remainder of the season.

Mack was the opening-day left fielder in 1963, then spent several weeks on the bench until becoming the starting center fielder for much of May and June. He rode the bench for all of July, then it was back to the minors at the start of August.

Inexplicably, Jones played all of 1964 with the Tigers’ AAA team in Syracuse, NY. While there, he batted .317 with 15 doubles, 18 triples, 39 home runs and 102 RBI. He also set a still-standing Syracuse record with 111 runs scored. His outfield mates that season were future Tigers’ stars Willie Horton and Jim Northrup.

Jones returned to the Braves at the start of the 1965 season, and was their starting center fielder for the next 3 seasons, playing between Aaron and Rico Carty. In 1965 Jones (31 HR) teamed up with Aaron (32), Eddie Mathews (32), Joe Torre (27), Felipe Alou (23), and Gene Oliver (21) to give the Braves six players with 20+ home runs in one season, an NL record.

After the 1967 season, Jones was traded to the Reds (along with pitcher Jay Ritchie and outfielder Jim Beauchamp) for slugging IF-OF Deron Johnson. The Reds had also acquired outfielder Alex Johnson from the Cardinals in the same off-season, and with Alex having his first of 3 consecutive .300+ seasons, plus Pete Rose and Vada Pinson all manning the outfield, Jones never found a spot in his lone season with Cincinnati. He only started 40+ games in the outfield (mostly in early-July and mid-August) and was used mainly as a pinch-hitter that season.

As a veteran spare part, Jones was left unprotected in the expansion draft following the 1968 season, and was the Expos’ 2nd draft pick (behind outfielder Manny Mota). He was Montreal’s starting left-fielder in 120 games – pretty good considering the revolving door most expansion teams are in their first season. He also hit a career-high .270 in 1969.

Jones played for the Expos for another 1 ½ seasons. He was the starting left fielder for 70 games in 1970 (mostly in the first half), and for 24 of the first 65 games in 1971. He played his final game on July 1st and was released a week later.

Jones died of cancer in 2004 at age 65.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Back on Topps' Radar: George Thomas

Outfielder George Thomas (#521) rejoined the Topps baseball set in 1969, after a 1-year absence. George had cards every year from 1961 to 1971, except for ’68 and ’70.

Most of his cards list him only as an outfielder. This is the only card that added “catcher” to his repertoire. Not sure why – Thomas had been in the majors continuously from 1961 to 1967, and only caught 3 innings in ’66 and 4 innings in ’67 during that time.

George was signed by the Tigers in August 1957 as a bonus baby. He remained on Detroit’s roster for the remainder of the season, getting only 1 at-bat.


Thomas returned to the minors for 1958 and remained down on the farm through the end of the 1960 season. He began the ’61 season with the Tigers, but was sold to the Los Angeles Angels in June. He shared the right field job with Albie Pearson, and also started 3 dozen games at third base.

George was the team’s 4th outfielder in 1962, playing mostly in right field. In June 1963 he was traded back to the Tigers, where he remained as an extra man for the next year and a half.

In October 1965, Thomas and George Smith were traded to the Red Sox for pitcher Bill Monbouquette. He played 2 seasons with the Sox (including 2 at-bats in the ’67 World Series) then played most of the 1968 season in the minors.

Thomas played 3 more seasons in a greatly-reduced role before calling it a career. He was released by Boston in late-June 1971. The Twins picked him up on the same day, and he finished out the season with Minnesota until his release in October.

He played 12 seasons, and appeared at every position except pitcher.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ron Brand (#549)

Here is Montreal Expos’ catcher Ron Brand, shown in a late-series card in his brand new Expos uniform. Not only that, but we have an “in-action” shot (rare for 1960s’ cards) that includes his full catching gear. Now THIS is a card!

Brand split the catching duties for the upstart Expos with John Bateman, just like he did for the past few years with the Astros.


Brand was signed by the Pirates in 1958, and labored in the minors for 7 seasons, although he also saw action in 46 games with the Bucs for part of 1964. He mostly played 2B and SS for his first 3 seasons in the minors, then began catching in 1961 (while still playing infield).

After the 1964 season, the Astros selected him in the Rule 5 draft, and he played the next 3 full seasons with the Astros, getting significant playing time in 1965, but was clearly Bateman’s backup in ’66 and ’67.

In 1968, he dropped to 3rd-string behind Bateman and Dave Adlesh, and spent part of the season in triple-A.

1969 brought a change of scenery for him, but unfortunately, Bateman followed him to Montreal. Although Brand caught more games in 1969 than Bateman or the 3rd “B” in the catching corps (John Boccabella), Ron was glued to the Expos’ bench for all of 1970 and 1971, and when he did play, it was usually as the backup shortstop.

He played for the Expos’ AAA team during 1972, then managed class-A teams in the minors from 1974-1976 for 3 different teams (Pirates, Dodgers, Reds). He also played 31 games in 1975 for the Dodgers’ class-A team in Bakersfield.

Also check out Brand's 1968 card.

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Does anyone remember “The King Family Show” from the mid-1960s? About 3 dozen members of this family had a musical variety show on TV for a year or so. The older ladies comprised “The King Sisters”, a popular quartet during the big-band era in the 1940s and 1950s.

Some segments of the show featured them, while other segments featured the teen cousins (pictured below) singing the top pop hits of the day while wearing matching white sweaters with their names (like in the Mickey Mouse Club). There were also segments featuring the smaller children, and the entire family.

Why do I bring this up? Ron Brand is married to the King cousin named Candy (4th from the left below).


The most well-known cousin was Tina Cole (far right). She was on the "My Three Sons" TV show for several years as one of the sons’ wife. Tina, Candy, and 2 of the other girls have toured in recent decades as “The King Cousins”, following in their mothers’ footsteps.

Other King Family trivia:  Liza (tallest one above) is the mother of Arcade Fire musicians Win and Will Butler. The more you know...


Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Astros are Back

After a season and a half of ugly Astros Houston cards, the Astros cap logo re-appears in the later 1969 series cards.


For continuity, Topps still used the team name "Houston", but no longer felt the need to use capless photos or butcher the photos with ridiculous airbrushing techniques (such as the "let's not even try" method of completely blacking out the cap).

Most of these players are featured in their road uniforms, which complied neatly with the edict, while only Larry Dierker is shown in his (somewhat obscured) home uniform.