Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Nitty Gritty Card of the Day

Today's Nitty Gritty Card of the Day is card #25 from the 1965 Topps baseball set featuring Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Al McBean. McBean was at the peak of his career when this card came out. In 1964 he was 8-3 with a 1.90 ERA and 22 saves. He was named the Sporting News National League Relief Pitcher of the Year, an Honor that was awarded from 1960-2004. The year prior he was 13-3 in relief and pitched a streak of 22 straight scorless innings. 1963 was his first season in the bullpen-in '62 he was a part of the Pirates rotation and posted a 15-10 mark as a starter. McBean was born in the Virgin Islands and one of the first big league players from there. In fact, 50 years after his debut he is still the ONLY big league pitcher to hail from the Virgin Islands and is one of only 11 players from the Islands to make it to the Majors. At 5'11" and 165 pounds he looked more like an infielder than a pitcher and although he never played the position as a professional in the US, he was quite a shortstop and fielded that position during batting practice to the delight of everyone looking on. I love this game, I love it's history and I love all the stories behind every character to play the game and appear on a card in the hobby I love. 45 years LATER!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Nitty Gritty Card of the Day

Today's Nitty Gritty Card of the Day is card #320 from the 1965 Topps Baseball set featuring St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson. If you don't think Bob Gibson is Nitty Gritty you are gonna have some sore ribs cuz a brushback is coming! I have lucked into several Gibby cards of late and I plan to feature them all eventually so I won't get into too many of Hoot's amazing accolades as a player. His Cardinals defeated the New York Yankees in the 1964 World Series and there is a World Series subset (which I have completed!) in the '65 set which celebrates his postseason heroics. The back of this card mentions that Gibby won 2 games against NY in the series and also shows his complete stats up to that point. One thing I find interesting is Gibson didn't exactly put up huge numbers in the minors. Decent, but not indicative of what was to come from the most dominant right hander of his generation. After winning the Championship in '64 the Cards fell from grace a bit and finished in 7th place in 1965 with a record of 80-81. At 29 years of age Gibson was just hitting his stride. He won 20 games for the first time that year, was an All Star, won a Gold Glove and struck out 270 batters. What I found most interesting and perhaps most Nitty Gritty was his hitting that year. He batted .240 with 5 homers, 19 RBI and a couple of stolen bases. Those are very respectable numbers for a pitcher, but if you compare him to his teammates in '65 his homerun total equaled the total of Dick Groat, Julian Javier and Mike Shannon. Those 3 combined for 1181 plate appearances and totalleed 5 homers betweeen them. Gibby hit 5 in just 119. Thats just awesome. More Gibby to come. I love this game, I love this hobby! 45 years LATER!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Nitty Gritty Card(s) of the Day! 1965 Topps Traded, Traded to Me!!!

A few months back I got a surprise package from reader Deron in Atlanta. He had written me asking if I had any 2008 Topps. Hell yeah I did. I went crazy with 50% off blasters of that, but never tried to put a set together. I had about 100 cards he needed and shipped them right away. Since I didn't really care about '08 Topps I was just happy to find a good home for the cards and I wasn't expecting anything in return. Well, I did get something in return. Within a week I got the aforementioned surprise package from the ATL. It was a nice envelope full of 1965 Topps baseball, plus a few other bonuses. He had a note saying that he couldn't find my wantlist, but he knew I was working on the set. For anyone concerned, my wantlist for '65 Topps is HERE. I am collecting cards 1-272 right now. As I get closer with those I will extend my list and add more pages to the binder. After having the Steve Carlton rookie stolen within a week of buying it soured me on chasing the whole set, so I am taking baby steps getting back into. Anyway, for someone who couldn't find my list he did pretty darn well. He sent 8 1965's and I needed 6 of them, plus one that wasn't on my list turned out to be a nice UPGRAYDE. I will focus on 2 of the cards he sent, cards I have dubbed '65 Topps Traded. The first one is an excellant example of a horrible airbrushing disaster. It is card #404 of pitcher Stan Williams. People ask me what makes a card or a player Nitty Gritty. There are a lot of different things that get you that status, being an aggressive rough and tumble player, playing down and dirty, being a certified bad-ass, being a catcher in full gear or having a vintage action shot or just being cool. Having a cool name or nickname can sneak you in, too. Stanley Williams was also none as Big Daddy. I don't know where he picked the name up, but he was a big righthanded pitcher, he stood 6'5" and weighed 230 pounds, thats a big daddy! He was a part of the Dodgers World Championship team in 1959 (also Nitty Gritty) and from 1960-'62 he won 14 games or more for the Dodgers. He was 14-10 with 175 Ks in 1960 and made both NL All Star Teams that year. In '61 he topped 200 Ks for the Dodgers before being traded to the Yankees for Moose (also Nitty Gritty) Skowron after the 1962 season. He was the 5th starter on the '63 Yankees team that won the AL Crown and repeated with them in '64, but had moved down the rotation to a spot starter and reliever. He became expendable in New York and was sold to the Cleveland Indians in spring of '65, right before this card came out. They mention him being dealt on the back of the card, but were not able to take a photo of him on the Tribe, so this is his '65 Topps card. He is clearly wearing Yankees pinstripes, Topps didn't bother hiding the NY on his jersey or taking out the other Yankees behind him in this pic that was taken in the spring of '64. They did black over the NY on his cap, but it still shows through. He is labeled as an Indian on the card. Big Daddy spent 4 years with the Tribe. He won 25 games and saved 22 more splitting time between the rotation and the closer role. He won 13 for them in '68, but was traded again after the 1969 season. He and Luis Tiant went to Minnesota in exchange for Dean Chance. At 33 years of age Big Daddy had one of his top years on the mound for the Twins. He pitched in 68 games, all in relief and posted an amazing 10-1 mark over 113 innings. He had a 1.99 ERA and saved 15 games for Minnesota. They lost to the Orioles in the ALCS that year, but Big Daddy was dominant. He appeared in relief in 2 games and pitched 6 scoreless innings It was his final postseason, but over his career he never allowed a run in the playoffs or World Series. He totaled 11 innings, allowed 4 hits and no runs. Not too shabby. After the Twins he made stops in St. Louis and Boston before calling it a career in 1972. He posted a career mark of 109-94 with a 3.48 ERA, 1305 strikeouts, 11 shutouts and 43 saves. He won a ring with the Dodgers in '59 and played against them in a losing effort with the Yanks in '63. He was also a part of the Yanks team that lost to the Cards in the WS in '64. After retiring as a player he spent many years as a coach in the big leagues, most recently with the Mariners up till 1999. It all started with me being fascinated by a lame airbrush effort from Topps, but opened up a story of a very interesting big league career. The other card I am going to show off today wasn't one on my wantlist. I had this card, but I really appreciate the upgrade. It is card #162 of Boston's backup catcher Russ Nixon. After 3 years with the Bo Sox Nixon was traded to the Minnesota Twins, too. He went from backing up Bob Tillman to relieving Earl Battey. The original owner of my card had updated Nixon's team name to the Twins after he was sent to Minnesota in the spring of '66 in the deal that got the Sox Dick Stigman. Nixon spent 2 years as a Twin before returning to Boston in 1968 where he ended his big league career. Nixon spent 12 years in the Majors and played every inning behind the plate, catching for 5506 innings. That's alot of squatting! Nixon spent most of the 1970s managing in the minor leagues before he took over the job of being the Reds skipper in 1982. He would then replace Chuck Tanner as the Atlanta Braves manager before Atlanta ushered in the Bobby Cox era which began in June of 1990. Wow, this post went far longer than expected... Just think, I only posted about 10% of what Deron sent me! A huge thanks to Deron and to everyone who has helped me in my quest (again) for 1965 Topps! You can find my wantlist here, I am slowly chipping away and have several completed pages to show off. This is my favorite set of all time and I hope to have a binder full of it again! If you are collecting this set too, get in touch, I have a couple of dupes and I love to trade! I love this game, I love it's history and I LOVE THIS HOBBY!!! Thanks for reading, I hope to always keep it Nitty and Gritty. 45 years LATER!!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Nitty Gritty Card of the Day

Welcome to the Nitty Gritty Card of the Day! Today's card is number 147 from the 1957 Topps set of Albert Bluford "Rube" Walker, catcher for the Brooklyn and LA Dodgers. Walker spent 8 years with the Dodgers and those 8 seasons came at the same time as Roy Campanella was winning MVP Awards and starting All Star games. This left Rube Walker without much playing time... He was still a part of some of the great Brooklyn teams of the 50's and found himself on this bad-ass card that I will probably post again. This is what Nitty Gritty is all about... I love this card, I love this hobby! 63 years LATER!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wicked Card of the Day!

It has been a LONG time since a post over here, but I am going to roll right into it... This card didn't come from the Wicked One, but it is a card of a mutual favorite player of ours. Wicked Ortega and I are both Latino bloggers who live in Florida. 3 big things we have in common. I am Mexican and he is Cuban and being Cuban he collects cards of Cuban players. In the 1960's there were a number of great players from the island in the big leagues. Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Tony Perez, Mike Cuellar, Luis Tiant and Bert Campaneris to name a few. Another player from Cuba who both Wicked and I collect is former outfielder and father of my favorite player of all time, Jose Tartabull. He is the focus of today's card of the day, card #56 from 1967 Topps baseball showing him on the Boston Red Sox who took the AL Pennant in 1967. The Bo Sox' outfield was tight in '67. Yaz in left, Reggie Smith in center and young Tony Conigliaro in right. Tony C actually shared time with Hawk Harrelson and Tartabull. Actually Tartabull played all 3 outfield positions that year, coming in often as a late inning defensive replacement or pinch runner. His most famous moment came at the end of the 1967 season when he gunned Ken Berry down at the plate with a perfect throw during the stretch run that year. The Red Sox won that game and ultimately won the AL Flag. I got into the elder Tartabull after collecting Danny. Jose Tartabull was never an All Star and never really played full-time in the majors, but he was still a remarkable fielder, a great baserunner and an important part of baseball history. I just picked up a heap of vintage cards, so I hope to do a lot of quick posts here in the coming days and weeks. Go Rays! 43 years LATER.