Sunday, February 27, 2011

1954 New York Giants

World Series Champs
Prior to the 2010 season, this was the last Giants team to win the World Series, sweeping the Indians. This was the World Series that Willie Mays made his catch that put him on the map. Willie Mays was the star of this team and the pitching was led by Johnny Antonelli.

The 1954 Collector
So far covering the early 1980s sets, the player selection for the main three sets can be summed up as follows: put together the starting lineup, starting rotation, and the top relievers from the previous season. These players will be in all three sets. After that Topps would go a little deeper on the bench simply because they had more cards in their set. You could collect just the Topps set in 1983, and get a pretty good idea who the main players were in MLB the year before. This wasn't the case in 1954. Card companies signed players to exclusive contracts, so if a person collected just Topps cards, they wouldn't get a Mickey Mantle card that year. If they collected the Bowman card set, they wouldn't get a Hank Aaron. Stan Musial came in neither set.

Purpose of this Project
So what is the purpose of this side project? To determine who maybe had the better set and determine a little about the player selection. There are two things I am going to keep score of here...the number of starters (at least 225 plate appearances in 1954), starting pitchers (at least 75 innings pitched in 1954), and top relief pitchers (at least 45 innings pitched) for each team in each set. I know as a collector opening up individual packs in say 1985, I probably cared more for getting a card of a player like Larry Herndon, one of the key players on the 1980s Tigers, than collectors in other parts of the country.

At the same time, I knew getting a Pete Rose or Dwight Gooden card (regardless of how their careers and lifes panned out) at the time was a big deal, even though they played on other teams. So I will keep track of Hall-of-Famers and 1954 All-Stars in each set.

Here are the scores for the Giants:
Exclusive players to that set are in italics
Topps Regulars (9): Wes Westrum, Hank Thompson, Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, Don Mueller, Johnny Antonelli, Ruben Gomez, Don Liddle, Hoyt Wilhelm

Bowman Regulars (11): Wes Westrum, Whitey Lockman, Davey Williams, Hank Thompson, Al Dark, Willie Mays, Don Mueller, Ray Katt, Johnny Antonelli, Sal Maglie, Hoyt Wilhelm

Topps All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (5): Johnny Antonelli, Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, Don Mueller, Hoyt Wilhelm

Bowman All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (5): Johnny Antonelli, Al Dark, Willie Mays, Don Mueller, Hoyt Wilhelm

In conclusion, Topps had four more Giants on the Giants roster and Bowman had three others not listed above. Bowman has just two more regulars than Topps. Neither company had a card for Marv Grissom, who was an all-star in 1954 or Leo Durocher who was the Hall-of-Fame manager. I would say both companies were pretty even on putting out 1954 Giants. Then, like now, New York was probably a key market to get into, so Bowman probably did their best to keep up with Topps, which was based in the New York area. We'll have two more New York based teams to compare.

__ TO 180 C Wes Westrum NYG
__ BO 153 1B Whitey Lockman NYG
__ BO 9 2B Davey Williams NYG
__ TO 64 3B Hank Thompson NYG
__ BO 41 SS Alvin Dark NYG
__ TO 3 LF Monte Irvin NYG
__ TO 90 CF Willie Mays NYG
__ TO 42 RF Don Mueller NYG
__ BO 121 C Ray Katt NYG

Starting Pitchers
__ TO 119 SP Johnny Antonelli NYG
__ TO 220 SP Ruben Gomez NYG
__ BO 105 SP Sal Maglie NYG
__ TO 225 SP Don Liddle NYG

SP Jim Hearn

Relief Pitchers

CL Marv Grissom
__ TO 36 RP Hoyt Wilhelm NYG

RP Windy McCall

Other Players
__ TO 170 LF Dusty Rhodes NYG
__ TO 99 IF Bobby Hofman NYG

3B Billy Gardner
__ TO 74 OF Bill Taylor NYG
__ BO 128 C Ebba St. Claire NYG

3B Foster Castleman

C Joe Garagiola

OF Hoot Evers

OF Eric Rodin

2B Ron Samford

IF Joey Amalfitano

PH Harvey Gentry

PH Bob Lennon
__ TO 200 SP Larry Jansen NYG
__ BO 137 RP Al Corwin NYG

RP Al Worthington

RP Mario Picone

RP George Spencer

RP Alex Konikowski

RP Ramon Monzant

RP Paul Giel


MG Leo Durocher

Thursday, February 24, 2011

1983 Chicago Cubs

Here is a team full of young stars that will make their mark on the game over the next decade, which may explain why the Cubs will improve greatly in 1984. Meanwhile, in 1983, the Cubs were having another 90+ loss season.

This may be remembered as the final season of hall-of-famer Fergie Jenkins career. Although he wasn't on the Cubs for his entire career, it is here where he made his mark, winning 20 games each year between 1967-1972 for the Cubs. He only had one other 20 win season with another team (1974 Rangers).

Best Player:
Keith Moreland...led team in batting average, 2nd in OBP, and in top 4 for home runs and RBIs.

Best Pitcher:
Lee Smith...not a good win/loss percentage, but led team in ERA, Saves, and WHIP.

All-Stars: Leon Durham, Lee Smith

Hall-of-Famers: Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg

Rookie Card of the Year: Joe might think we would say Sandberg here, but he had a card in a regional set issued in 1982. Check the archives of this blog as I had an email exchange with the a relative of the person who took Sandberg's picture. Anyway, Joe Carter, although not quite a hall-of-famer, had a solid career with his high point coming in the 1993 World Series hitting a walk off home run in the final game of the World Series for the Blue Jays. The Cubs had a regional set out in 1983 as well, this time sponsored by Thorn Apple Valley (the Cubs sure knew how to pick partnerships for their cards, also thanks to Wrigley Wax for pointing this out to me). Joe Carter's first card is in this set, predating Donruss by a year and Topps by two years.

Other rookies:
Tom Filer, Mel Hall, Steve Lake, Craig Lefferts, Ryne Sandberg (OK I will list him for people just wanting main stream sets)

First Cub card: Thad Bosley, Warren Brusstar, Ron Cey, Wayne Nordhagen (although this is in an OPC issue, not showing him in a Cubs uniform), Chuck Rainey, Dick Ruthven, Steve Trout, Tom Veryzer

Most interesting non-Topps card:
Joe Carter, read what I wrote under rookie card of the year section...there were 7 cards to get out of that set that weren't in any other sets (noted below with CV in the checklist)...Joe Carter, Steve Lake, Warren Brusstar, Craig Lefferts. Thad Bosley, the team card and the coaches card...outside of that set, the only player on a Cubs card not in the Topps set is Pat Tabler in the Fleer and Donruss sets, he will be listed in the Indians checklist, as he played for them in '83.

__ TO 542 C Jody Davis CHC
__ TO 250 1B Bill Buckner CHC
__ TO 83 2B Ryne Sandberg CHC
__ TO 305 SS Larry Bowa CHC
__ TT 19 3B Ron Cey CHC
__ TO 125 LF Leon Durham CHC
__ TT 39 CF Mel Hall CHC
__ TO 619 RF Keith Moreland CHC

Starting Pitchers
__ TT 92 SP Chuck Rainey CHC
__ TT 117 SP Steve Trout CHC
__ TO 230 SP Fergie Jenkins CHC
__ TT 98 SP Dick Ruthven CHC
__ TO 99 SP Dickie Noles CHC

Relief Pitchers
__ TO 699 CL Lee Smith CHC
__ CV 41 RP Warren Brusstar CHC
__ TO 436 RP Bill Campbell CHC
__ CV 32 RP Craig Lefferts CHC
__ TO 597 RP Mike Proly CHC

Other Players
__ TO 356 OF Gary Woods CHC
__ TO 152 LF Jay Johnstone CHC
__ TO 729 OF Jerry Morales CHC

1B Carmelo Martinez
__ TT 121 SS Tom Veryzer CHC
__ TO 481 LF Scot Thompson CHC
__ CV 16 C Steve Lake CHC
__ CV 20 OF Thad Bosley CHC
__ CV 33 OF Joe Carter CHC
__ TO 714 LF Wayne Nordhagen TOR
__ OP 47 LF Wayne Nordhagen CHC

MI Dan Rohn

IF Dave Owen
__ TO 204 IF Junior Kennedy CHC

OF Tom Grant

3B Fritzie Connally

C Mike Diaz

PH Jay Loviglio

SP Paul Moskau

RP Rich Bordi

SP Rick Reuschel
__ TO 568 RP Willie Hernandez CHC

RP Reggie Patterson

SP Don Schulze

RP Bill Johnson

RP Alan Hargesheimer

Minor Leagues
__ TO 508 MN Tom Filer CHC

__ TO 456 MG Lee Elia CHC

MG Charlie Fox
__ CV 0 CO Cubs Manager/Coaches (Lee Elia, Ruben Amaro, Bily Connors, Duffy Dyer, Fred Koenig, John Vuckovich) CHC
__ CV 0 TM Chicago Cubs CHC

Monday, February 21, 2011

1983 Oakland Athletics

Back to 1983, we get to the Oakland Athletics, who finished dead in the middle of the AL West. Billy Martin had led this team to the ALCS in 1981, but blew out the pitchers arms in the process, so by 1983, there was virtually no pitching on this team. The one bright spot for the pitching staff was a no-hitter thrown by Mike Warren. Rickey Henderson was the best player on this team by a mile and this team may have been in last place without him. A true definition of "most valuable" player.

Best Player: Rickey a mile

Best Pitcher: Chris Codiroli...this wasn't a good pitching staff, Codiroli led the team in wins and was one of the few who was uninjured for the whole year to give the team 200+ innings.

All-Stars: Rickey Henderson

Hall-of-Famers: Rickey Henderson

Rookie Card of the Year: Tony Phillips...played with the A's through 1989, but really had the peak of his career from 1990-1994 with the Tigers. He led the league in runs scored in 1992 and garnered MVP votes in 1993. He bounced around after that with several teams and finished his career in 1999 with the same A's that he started out with.

Other rookies: Steve Baker, Chris Codiroli, Bob Kearney

First Athletic card: Bill Almon, Steve Boros, Tom Burgmeier, John D'Acquisto (under retired players), Preston Hanna (under retired players), Carney Lansford, Jimmy Sexton (listed under St. Louis Cardinals), Al Woods (under players on new teams)

Most interesting non-Topps card: Kelvin of the things with doing this project is how many players are completely shut out of Topps sets. Kelvin Moore had a career from 1981 through 1983, all with the A's. This is actually his second Donruss card, as he had a card in the 1982 Donruss set. He never had a Topps card, even though in 1983, he played in 41 games with 136 plate appearances.

__ TT 52 C Bob Kearney OAK
__ TO 233 1B Wayne Gross OAK
__ TO 365 2B Davey Lopes OAK
__ TT 87 SS Tony Phillips OAK
__ TT 60 3B Carney Lansford OAK
__ TO 180 LF Rickey Henderson OAK
__ TO 598 CF Dwayne Murphy OAK
__ TT 24 RF Mike Davis OAK
__ TO 648 DH Jeff Burroughs OAK
__ TT 2 IF Bill Almon OAK
__ TO 23 C Mike Heath OAK

UT Garry Hancock

Starting Pitchers
__ TT 20 SP Chris Codiroli OAK

SP Bill Krueger
__ TO 493 SP Steve McCatty OAK
__ TO 620 SP Mike Norris OAK

SP Gorman Heimueller

Relief Pitchers
__ TO 102 CL Dave Beard OAK
__ TO 466 RP Tom Underwood OAK
__ TT 16 RP Tom Burgmeier OAK

RP Tim Conroy

RP Keith Atherton

SP Mike Warren
__ TT 6 RP Steve Baker OAK

Other Players

CF Rick Peters
__ TO 208 1B Dan Meyer OAK

SS Donnie Hill
__ DO 87 1B Kelvin Moore OAK
__ TO 737 DH Mitchell Page OAK

UT Luis Quinones

C Darryl Cias

UT Marshall Brant

UT Dave Hudgens

UT Rusty McNealy
__ TO 413 RP Matt Keough OAK
__ TO 259 RP Jeff Jones OAK
__ TO 286 SP Rick Langford OAK

RP Mark Smith

RP Ed Farmer

SP Ben Callahan

RP Curt Young

RP Bert Bradley

RP Rich Wortham

__ TT 13 MG Steve Boros OAK

Sunday, February 20, 2011

1954 Ultimate Set

I am starting a little side project on this blog that I will run every Sunday applying the ultimate set concept to the 1954 sets. One of my favorite team collector blogs is The Phillies Room. Jim, who runs the site, has been reviewing every Topps set and the Phillies cards contained in them. He noted that the selection of Phillies in some of the years was lackluster as most of the good players seemed to be in the Bowman sets. Bowman was a Philadelphia based company, and my theory was that this had something to do with the lack of Phillies. So I am putting together an ultimate checklist for 1954. Maybe we can get an idea who and what teams were in what sets. Keep in mind that I own none of these cards, so I may have a few mistakes in some of the info in my checklist.

What sets are being used?
The Topps set will be the starting point and then players with Bowman cards only will be added. Regional sets will be used to round out the set. The Dan Dee set (noted as DD), a 29 card set given away in bags of chips is one of them. Since the company was based out of Cleveland, the majority of the players are Indians with a handful of Pirates and a few all-stars from other cities. Also being used is the Red Heart set (noted as RH), which was marketed with dog food. It was a 33-card set of all-stars, although the Cubs, White Sox, and Cardinals were represented more than other teams, so this may have been a regional issue. If you wanted a Stan Musial card in 1954, you had to get the Red Heart set. The third set that I am using is the Johnston Cookies set (noted as BJ). These were issued from 1953-1955 and contained only cards of the Milwaukee Braves.

Retired Players

There were a handful of retired players that appeared in these sets. These are players who would never appear in another game after 1954. They are listed below. One player that I am having some difficulty finding info about is Ben Johnson, who's only card is in the Johnston Cookies set. It appears that he may have never played a game in the major leagues. Angel Scull is another player that appears to have no major league career, but played on the independent Havana Sugar Kings in 1954. I will get to that team in a few minutes.

__ TO 57 RT Luis Aloma CHW
__ BO 171 RT Carlos Bernier PIT
__ TO 203 RT Harry Brecheen BAL
__ BO 215 RT Johnny Bucha DET
__ BJ 29 RT Paul Burris MLN
__ BO 126 RT Cliff Chambers STL
__ TO 228 RT Gene Hermanski PIT
__ BJ 12 RT Ben Johnson MLN
__ BO 151 RT Pat Mullin DET
__ TO 104 RT Mike Sandlock PHI
__ TO 204 RT Angel Scull WSH

Players in the Military
Here is an issue that I haven't had to deal with compiling sets from 1981 on. But 1954 was one year after the Korean War came to an end and military service was still a requirement. There were a handful of players who would have decent major league careers, but served in the military and didn't play a game in 1954. These include:

__ TO 221 MT Dick Brodowski BOS
__ TO 43 MT Dick Groat PIT
__ TO 13 MT Billy Martin NYY
__ TO 249 MT Vinegar Bend Mizell STL
__ BO 185 MT Daryl Spencer NYG

Players on New Teams
In the 1980s, players appear in traded sets, so a list is created of the cards of players on their old teams. There was no traded set in 1954, but due to the nature of both Bowman and Topps issuing their cards in series, a few players appear on a 1953 team in one set, and a 1954 team in another set.

A few exceptions I made here is for Saul Rogovin and Paul Smith. Rogovin played for the White Sox in 1953 and reappeared in the major leagues in 1955 with the Baltimore Orioles. Paul Smith played for the Pirates in 1953 and didn't reappear in the majors until 1957, again with the Pirates. Where did they both play in 1954? For the Havana Sugar Kings. The Havana Sugar Kings were an independent team based in Cuba in the International League in 1954. I am not sure what kind of relationship the Sugar Kings had with the major leagues that year, so I placed these two players on this checklist since they would reappear in the majors again.

__ BO 163 OT Dave Philley PHA
__ BO 140 OT Saul Rogovin CIN
__ TO 11 OT Paul Smith PIT
__ BO 109 OT Roy Smalley CHC