Wednesday, April 15, 2020

1970 Card Back Follies, Part 1

In my last post, I featured the 1976 Topps Record Breaker subset, I was surprised (not surprised) to find that Night Owl also had featured them in the past. His particular focus was on the great information on the back of the cards. That got me to thinking.  I have to admit that I don't pay enough attention to the card backs as I should.  At least partially due to the fact that they are often very hard to read, combining small print and colors that don't necessarily contrast well.

1970 Topps is different, though.  My old eyes can actually read it well with the high contrast colors.  So, a couple Saturdays ago, while waiting for the sun come out and the ambition to get outside and do yard work to strike me, I paged through my 1970 binder backwards. As I did so, I tossed around ideas for posts around the card backs.  My genius (not genius) idea was to identify cards backs with interesting or odd cartoons and see if I can find any information on the internet that supports the cartoon.

So, without further ado, here is the first 4:

Tito Fuentes (#42) - Tito's hobby is playing ping-pong

I've not had much luck finding anything about Fuentes table tennis hobby. It seems as if the only relevant link goes to a post about this card on the defunct "Stats on the Back" blog from May of 2009.

I'm not off to an auspicious start here, am I?

Paul Casanova (#84) - In 1961, Paul played for the Indianapolis Clowns

After a short, and unspectacular, 1960 in the Indians chain that saw Casanova appear in 10 games and rack up 9 plate appearances for Class C Minot, he was released. He did spend 1961 with the erstwhile Negro League Indianapolis Clowns, by then a barnstorming team.  While he did come to the attention of some MLB scouts, he left baseball behind at the end of the season to pursue a more remunerative  career in construction.  However, a couple  years later, a scout for the Washington Senators brought Casanova into training camp. In 1965, after two years in the minors, Casanova was called up and embarked on a 10 year career as a catcher for Washington and, later, the Atlanta Braves.

Juan Rios (#89) - Juan has amazing speed

There isn't any metric that I am aware of that objectively measures speed, though I am not, by any means, a sabermetric guru. So, I made my own up: stolen bases divided by total bases.  It's not  perfect, but I also didn't want to spend any more time on it.  I also didn't do exhaustive research on modern era performance, but did look at the career stolen base leaders, under the assumption that they, at some level, set a benchmark for speed. Among those, I found  Vince Coleman at 40.3% (752 SB and 1863 TB), Rickey Henderson at 30.6%, Maury Wills at 23.3%, Lou Brock at 22.1%, and Tim Raines at 21.4%.  So, let's set 20% as the benchmark.

So, how did Rios do? Difficult to say. By the time this card came out, he had played his last MLB game. In a major league career spanning 87 games and 208 plate appearances, he had a total of 1 stolen base and 54 total bases, for a miserly 1.8%.  In 8 minor league seasons, he swiped 49 bases and tallied 706 total bases, for a 6.9%. So, Rios may have had blazing speed, but it didn't translate on the base paths.

George Culver (#92) - George likes to wear "Mod" style clothes

I didn't manage to locate any pictures of Culver in his finest, but I did find some wonderful text from an article written by Bob Broeg in the St.Louis Post Dispatch about him:

“Culver is a good-looking, green-eyed guy who resembles his idol, golf’s dashing Doug Sanders, in physical appearance and sartorial splendor,” Bob Broeg of the Post-Dispatch observed."

On the day they met, Broeg reported, Culver was wearing “white shoes, cream-colored trousers and a brilliant orange sweater.”

Culver told Broeg he liked to wear purple or pink. “I know those colors aren’t very manly,” Culver said, “but they’re beautiful.”

According to the Bakersfield newspaper, Culver had a “purple Edwardian-style suit,” but he said, “I don’t wear that purple outfit anymore. I favor all-white suits now.”

Culver said he had 150 pairs of slacks and 50 Banlon shirts. “I’d rather spend 50 bucks on clothes than on a date,” he told Broeg.
Good stuff.

Anyways, that is it for now.  It was fun researching this, so hopefully I'll keep the series going on the regular.

What I am listening to: Here and Now by Letters to Cleo

Friday, April 3, 2020

1975 Record Breakers

I don't know about you, but I'm struggling right now. It isn't so much the working from home. I did that for years on a previous job.  I think it is the non-stop grim news. I know logically that things are going to get worse before they get better. But, there is something about the situation that makes it hard to not live in the moment.

Though I hate the term, I am trying to exercise some level of self-care. I've stopped drinking alcohol as it degrades the quality of my sleep and, consequently, I tend to be distracted and more susceptible to negativity the next day.  I'm still not eating as healthy as I should, but I am trying.  The convenience store/gas station/bait shop across the street added a kitchen, so it is hard to not get junk for lunch a couple days a week. Though, to be fair, their Friday fried catfish special lunch is quite excellent.

Since I've cut out hobby spending, I am going to try to spend more time appreciating what is already in my collection. The other day, I just pulled a random binder off my shelf.  It was 1976 Topps and the first 6 cards of the set memorialized the record breakers from the previous season. It made me wonder how many of these records still stand. Someone else may have done this, but I am not going to look. I need something to do and this is as good as anything.

Hank Aaron is still the all-time career RBI leader, though he tacked another 35 on to the total in 1976, his final season.  I actually am surprised by this. I would have though Barry Bonds would have passed him, but he is actually 301 behind Hammerin' Hank. Speaking of the Bonds family...

It is hard to find statistics on lead off home runs. I am sure there is a way to figure it out in Baseball Reference, but I haven't figured it out.  All I can determine is that the all time leadoff homer hitter is Rickey Henderson with 81, followed by Alfonso Soriano with 54 and Craig Biggio with 53. Ian Kinsler is 4th with 48.  As near as I can tell, Bonds ended his career with 34.  Whether there is anyone between him and Kinsler is unknown to me.

Bobby Bonds is the all-time 30-30 Club co-champion, retiring with 5 such seasons. Who also has five 30-30 seasons? His son Barry Bonds. Keeping it in the family!

Mickey Lolich, currently 20th on the all-time strikeout leaders list, is now only 4th in that category amongst lefthanders.  He has been surpassed by Randy Johnson (4875), Steve Carlton (4136), and the recently retired CC Sabathia (3093.)

Lopes no long holds this record.  Vince Coleman had 50 in the 1988 and 1989 seasons, Ichiro had 45 between 2006 and 2007, Tim Raines swiped 40 in a row successfully over a three season span (1993-1995), and Jimmy Rollins had 39 successful steals in a row between 2007 and 2008.

Tom Terrific still holds this record.  He even managed to extend it to 9 seasons and came 4 strikeouts short of a tenth. Even Nolan Ryan, who had fifteen 200+ K seasons in his career, never managed to string together more than 5 in a row, though he did it twice including once between his age 40 and 44 seasons.

Stennett still holds this record, though he really is tied for it with Wilbert Robinson who did it on June 10, 1892.

What I am listening to: Dig a Hole by Marcel Botempi