Friday, May 18, 2012

1968 Topps: Joy of a (first) completed page

Beautiful day today here in New England, mostly sunny with a high in the mid 70's. Perfect! Finally had some free time over the last couple of nights to transfer the obtained, partial 1968 Topps set in a new binder and new UP sheets. After loading my '68s into the album, I have my first and only completed page. Behold ...

The card that completed this page was that ink-marked, Ernie Banks. I just picked up a little over a week ago from a game and comic book store. Besides the pen ink, it's a nice, clean card.

So who are these other guys that make up this page ...

Jackie Hernandez was a member of the 1971 World Series Pittsburgh Pirates.

Mac Jones had quite the major league debut. On July 13, 1961, Jones collected four hits, (three singles and a double). Mack the Knife also played the outfield in the first game the Montreal Expos played on April 8, 1969.

Pete Richert also had a memorable Major league debut on April 12, 1962 against the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium. Richert set a record by striking out the first six batters he faced. His Dodgers trailing 4-0, he entered the game with two outs in the top of the second inning and struck out Vada Pinson for the final out. He then recorded a four-strikeout third inning in which his victims were Frank Robinson, Gordy Coleman (who reached first base on a passed ball, Wally Post and Johnny Edwards; his record-tying sixth strikeout was of Tommy Harper leading off the fourth. To date, Richert is the only pitcher to record a four-strikeout inning in his Major League debut.

Ernie Banks .... Mr. Cub was nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career. The back of his card notes that he is "The Cubs all-time home run leader." He would finish with 512. He is now second to Sammy Sosa who hit 545 home runs as a Cub. 

Ken Holtzman (Checklist) was a 2-time All Star, and a 3-time World Series champion. He also threw two no-hitters. The first on August 19, 1969 was a 3-0 win against Phil Niekro and the Braves. One note about this game, he did not have a single strike out.

Len Gabrielson played for the Braves, Cubs, Giants, Angels, and Dodgers. He once beat out Orlando Cepeda for a starting spot in the Giants outfield. Cepeda WAS coming back from and injury. Traded to the Dodgers in May 1967, Gabrielson would spend the next four seasons with Los Angeles. He led the team in home runs with ten in 1968.

Mike Epstein was a power hitter for the Senators and won a World Series ring with the 1972 Oakland A's. He could take a walk and had a number of hit by pitches (career OBP of .358). His career ties in the aforementioned Pete Richert as well ... One story I found on "Super Jew" as he was nicknamed was the following:

He was first brought up for 6 games by the Baltimore Orioles in 1966, at the age of 23, having hit over .300 with at least 29 home runs and 100 RBI in his first two minor league seasons.
After the Orioles tried in vain to convert him to the outfield (they already had Boog Powell at first base), they demoted him to Rochester again. The outspoken Epstein refused to report, going home to California instead, and did not play again until the end of May 1967, when he was traded by the Orioles with Frank Bertaina to the Washington Senators for Pete Richert. Later that season, in first at-bat against the Orioles, Epstein hit a grand slam.

Joe Moeller is the youngest starting pitcher in Los Angeles Dodgers history at 19 years, 2 months of age. He pitched two innings in the 1966 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Willie Horton is a 4-time American League All Star, and won a World Series with the 1968 Detroit Tigers. Horton posted double-digit home run totals in 12 regular seasons from 1965–76, and hit two home runs in a game on 30 occasions. In 1979 with the Seattle Mariners he was again named the AL's Outstanding Designated Hitter after hitting .279 with 29 HRs and a career-high 106 RBI, and he received the Comeback Player of the Year award as well.

As I make my way through completing this set, and as the completed pages pile up (I hope), it'll be interesting to learn more about these players. Some of these players will only have one card, while others make appearances throughout the '70s and even into the 1980s.

Stay tuned for some vintage trade bait later today/night. Again, looking to obtain any 1968 Topps that are on my needs lists. I'll be posting some nice and some off-conditioned vintage Topps. Koufax, Frank Robinson, Brooks, Robinson, multi-player cards are just some that will be available to trade. Until then, thank you for reading.

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