Sunday, May 8, 2011

1954 St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis's Lone Baseball Team
1954 marked the first year that the city of St. Louis only had one major league baseball team, with the Browns moving to Baltimore and becoming the Orioles. The Cardinals had finished in 3rd place the previous three seasons, but with the town to themselves, they fell to 6th place in 1954. Before the season, they traded away a hall-of-famer to the Yankees, Enos Slaughter, but replaced him with the 1954 NL Rookie of the Year, Wally Moon. They also picked up shortstop Alex Grammas from the Reds. Stan Musial was the offensive leader on this team, leading the team in all of the triple crown categories. He led the team in home runs, nearly doubling the 2nd best home run hitter, Rip Repulski 35 to 19. Harvey Haddix leading the pitching staff, leading the team in wins and strikeouts.

Starter and Hall-of-Fame/All-Star Scores
Exclusive players to a set are in italics

Topps Regulars (11): Bill Sarni, Ray Jablonski, Alex Grammas, Rip Repulski, Wally Moon, Solly Hemus, Harvey Haddix, Tom Poholsky, Stu Miller, Joe Presko, Cot Deal

Bowman Regulars (8): Red Schoendienst, Rip Repulski, Solly Hemus, Vic Raschi (shown with Yankees), Al Brazle, Jerry Staley, Stu Miller, Joe Presko

Topps All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (2): Ray Jablonski, Harvey Haddix

Bowman All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (1): Red Schoendienst

The Cardinals give an advantage to Topps. The only key player on a card in 1954 missing in the Topps set is hall-of-famer Red Schoendiest. There are actually several regulars who are missing in both sets: 1st baseman Joe Cunningham, 1st baseman Tom Alston, pitchers Brook Lawrence, Gordon Jones, Royce Lint, and Ralph Beard. Also missing in both of these sets of course is the biggest Cardinal omission of all...Stan Musial. But you could get a 1954 card of Stan Musial, you just had to look at the Red Heart set in 1954. More on that set below.

Red Heart

The Red Heart set consisted of 33 cards. They were distributed nationally with dog food. Yes dog food, although, this isn't the only time I have seen this happen. I am covering 1984 (well at least slowly), and there was a 33 card set distributed with dog food by Ralston Purina. I specifically remember getting those cards in bags of dog food. Anyway, to see the complete set of 1954 Red Heart cards, check out this website which has a scan of all 33 cards in the set.

This, of course is the only set to get a Stan Musial card in 1954. Supposedly, the big guns (Topps and Bowman) didn't pay him what he thought he was worth, but Red Heart had no problem. They also had a Mickey Mantle card in the set. How these cards were obtained was by sending in labels of dog food to get one set of 11 cards. This explains why the cards have three different background colors (blue, green, red). Rumour has it that these cards may have been available to order as late as the 1970s.

__ TO 194 C Bill Sarni STL

1B Joe Cunningham
__ BO 110 2B Red Schoendienst STL
__ TO 26 3B Ray Jablonski STL
__ TO 151 SS Alex Grammas STL
__ TO 115 LF Rip Repulski STL
__ TO 137 CF Wally Moon STL
__ RH 23 RF Stan Musial STL
__ TO 117 SS Solly Hemus STL

1B Tom Alston

Starting Pitchers
__ TO 9 SP Harvey Haddix STL

SP Brooks Lawrence
__ TO 142 SP Tom Poholsky STL

SP Gordon Jones
__ BO 33 SP Vic Raschi NYY

Relief Pitchers
__ BO 142 CL Al Brazle STL
__ BO 14 RP Jerry Staley STL

RP Royce Lint

SP Ralph Beard
__ TO 164 RP Stu Miller STL
__ TO 135 RP Joe Presko STL
__ TO 192 RP Cot Deal STL

Other Players
__ BO 30 C Del Rice STL

UT Joe Frazier
__ TO 158 OF Peanuts Lowrey STL
__ BO 78 C Sal Yvars STL

RF Tom Burgess

1B Steve Bilko
__ TO 191 SS Dick Schofield STL
__ BO 174 3B Pete Castiglione STL

RP Ben Wade

RP Mel Wright

RP Hal White
__ TO 118 RP Carl Scheib PHA

SP Bill Greason
__ BO 222 SP Memo Luna STL

__ TO 38 MG Eddie Stanky STL
__ TO 147 CO Johnny Riddle STL
__ TO 237 CO Mike Ryba STL

Sunday, May 1, 2011

1954 Cincinnati Redlegs

The Redlegs
Cold War politics makes an appearance in major league baseball in 1954. From 1954 through 1959, the Cincinnati Reds weren't known as the Reds, but the Redlegs. The name change was due to the Red scare, but I am not sure how going from the Reds to the Redlegs prevents any confusion. Maybe that is why they changed back to the reds after 1959. The previous four seasons, the Reds finished in 6th place in the National League, but with a name change they moved up to 5th place in 1954. The Reds/Redlegs would finish in the middle of the pack in the National League until they finally made a World Series appearance in 1961. Then of course, shortly after, the Big Red Machine started coming together.

Big Klu

The '54 Redlegs were in the upper half of the league in hitting, but didn't have a solid pitching staff. The offense was led by Ted Kluszewski, who had a monster year with 49 home runs, 141 RBIs (both categories he led the league) and a .326 batting average. This is one of the few players big time players that Topps had in their set, but wasn't in the Bowman set. Looking at Ted Kluszewski, he looks like he would have fit right in during the steroid era, as he would often wear his uniform with cut0off sleeves. He had several big season in the mid-1950s, but injured himself during a clubhouse fight in 1956. He was never the same, and was a part time player from 1957-1961, bouncing around from the Reds to the Pirates to the White Sox, and finally appearing with the Angels during their first season in 1961. It seems funny now, as scouting seems that no player is unfound, but in the mid-1940s, Klu was discovered when the Reds were in spring training in Indiana and he was on the grounds crew.

Starter and Hall-of-Fame/All-Star Scores
Exclusive players to a set are in italics

Topps Regulars (8): Ted Kluszewski, Bobby Adams, Roy McMillan, Jim Greengrass, Chuck Harmon, Bud Podbeilan, Frank Smith, Harry Perkowski

Bowman Regulars (11): Andy Seminik, Bobby Adams, Roy McMillan, Jim Greengrass, Gus Bell, Frank Baczewski, Frank Smith, Joe Nuxhall, Jackie Collum, Karl Drews (shown with Phillies, split time with Reds and Phillies, getting more playing time with the Reds), Harry Perkowski

Topps All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (1): Ted Kluszewski

Bowman All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (1): Gus Bell

This is the first team we come across in 1954 that produces no hall-of-famers. The two all-star game representatives for the Reds in 1954 are each in two of the different sets. Neither set has the top two starting pitchers, Art Fowler or Corky Valentine. Johnny Temple is also missing, but his rookie card wouldn't appear until the 1955 Bowman set. Topps scores by having the best pitcher on this team on a card, in Frank Smith, and by having the only card of longtime Reds catcher Ed Bailey, although he didn't play enough to be considered a regular in 1954. I would say this is a very evenly matched team as far as what set to collect, as Topps has more of the bench players.

__ BO 172 C Andy Seminick CIN
__ TO 7 1B Ted Kluszewski CIN

2B Johnny Temple
__ TO 123 3B Bobby Adams CIN
__ TO 120 SS Roy McMillan CIN
__ TO 22 LF Jim Greengrass CIN
__ BO 124 CF Gus Bell CIN

RF Wally Post
__ TO 182 3B Chuck Harmon CIN

Starting Pitchers

SP Art Fowler

SP Corky Valentine
__ TO 69 SP Bud Podbielan CIN
__ BO 60 SP Fred Baczewski CIN

Relief Pitchers
__ TO 71 CL Frank Smith CIN
__ BO 76 RP Joe Nuxhall CIN

RP Howie Judson
__ BO 204 RP Jackie Collum CIN
__ BO 191 RP Karl Drews PHI
__ TO 125 RP Harry Perkowski CIN

Other Players
__ TO 184 C Ed Bailey CIN
__ TO 138 RF Bob Borkowski CIN

OF Lloyd Merriman
__ BO 220 C Hobie Landrith CIN

UT Nino Escalera
__ BO 156 MI Rocky Bridges CIN

CF Jim Bolger

PH Dick Murphy

PH Grady Hatton
__ TO 19 PH Johnny Lipon BAL
__ TO 136 PH Connie Ryan CIN

RP Herm Wehmeier

RP Moe Savransky

SP Jim Pearce
__ TO 97 RP Jerry Lane WSH
__ TO 46 RP Ken Raffensberger CIN

RP Mario Picone

RP George Zuverink

RP Cliff Ross


MG Birdie Tebbetts