Thursday, October 16, 2014

Monthly Card Show #3: The 1970s

Back in the mid-1990s, grunge was at its peak. Former Minuteman and Firehose bassist, songwriter, and vocalist Mike Watt released an album under the band name "Mike Watt and Friends" called Ball-Hog or Tugboat?. On that album, Watt had a lineup of friends that sounds like a who's who of 1990s grunge/alternative music -- guys like Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Dave Grohl (Nirvana and Foo Fighters), Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum), Henry Rollins (Black Flag), J Mascis (Dinosaur, Jr.), Cris & Curt Kirkwood (The Meat Puppets), Krist Novoselic (Nirvana), Evan Dando (The Lemonheads), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock from The Beastie Boys), and Frank Black (The Pixies) all contributed in some way.

One of my favorite songs on that album was one that got a lot of airplay in 1995. It was called "Against the 70s":

It wasn't lyrically impressive; half the song is Vedder and Watt singing, "The kids of today should defend themselves against the 70s."

Now that we're twenty years past when that song came out, though, I'm tired of defending myself against the 70s. Indeed, I'm embracing both the 1970s and today.  

But, for today's post, I'm embracing the 1970s. From Topps, at least.

1973 Topps

Rick Auerbach was actually a draftee by the Seattle Pilots.  I found that out when I was working on the post for him for the 1982 Topps blog. He lasted three seasons in Milwaukee -- though only 6 games in April of 1973 -- before the Brewers sent him to the Dodgers for Tim Johnson.  

I'd like to think that Auerbach began his love of bowling in Milwaukee too.

As an aside, I'm not sure what shenanigans were going on between the Brewers and the Dodgers. In 1973, Baseball Reference has the Brewers trading him to LA in April, buying his contract back at the beginning of September, then selling him back to the Dodgers at the end of October. That is a weird transaction line.

1974 Topps

Dave May played six seasons over two stints with the Brewers. He was an All-Star in 1973 when he hit 25 HR, drove in 93 runs, hit .303/.352/.473, and led the American League in Total Bases with 295. He then was traded after the 1974 season to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for the final two seasons of Hank Aaron's playing career.

1975 Topps

Del Crandall was fired one game before the end of the 1975 season. It didn't go well -- a 68-94 record, a fifth place finish thanks to the completely inept Detroit Tigers (57-102), and a team pitching staff that was dead last in the American League in ERA, Runs Allowed, Earned Runs Allowed, and Strikeouts and 11th in walks issued.  

On the plus side, George Scott had an incredible year at age 31 (36 HR, 109 RBI, .285/.341/.515).  Harvey Kuenn got his first managerial win in the one game he got to manage.  And, the team other than the 41-year-old DH Hank Aaron was very young -- fourth-youngest in batters even with Hank and the youngest average age for a pitching staff in the American League.

1976 Topps

George Scott has some of the best sideburns pictured on a baseball card. Too bad the photographer either was 3-feet-tall or thought it best to get an easily changeable photo for the inevitable point when the Brewers would trade Scott for two dimes to a quarter.

Believe it or not, Bob Sheldon was around 24 years old when that photo of him was taken. Sheldon was passed in the organizational reckoning by the end of the 1975 season and he would not appear in the majors in 1976. The Brewers had the spoils from trading Rick Auerbach -- Tim Johnson -- playing second mostly. That didn't work out well so Don Money got moved there for 1977. Sheldon no longer played professionally after 1977.

Eduardo Rodriguez came up with the Brewers in 1973 as a 21-year-old. He was a swing-man out of the bullpen. In 1973, 1976, and 1977 with Milwaukee, Rodriguez tallied at least one complete game and at least one save. He was what he was -- a fungible rubber arm who could eat a few innings here and ther while never being a star in any way. 

The Best Card Ever

I know nearly everyone knows about the Kurt Bevacqua Bubble Gum Blowing Champ card from the 1976 Topps set. If you don't know about it, it's time you were introduced to the master bubble-blower, Kurt Bevacqua.

What I especially appreciate about this card is not just the photo. As an aside, I'm not quite sure why this photo was in black and white. I mean, Bazooka is a Topps product, so couldn't they have sprung for a color photo of the championship?

More impressive to me is the fact that the card outlines some Byzantine rip-off version of the March Madness bracket that was employed to reach a champion.

This needs to be done again. It needs to be its own baseball card set this time, however complete with about three cards for each player during the competition. I mean, I would pay good money to see a card from that Johnny Oates/Gary Carter bubble-off (and let's be clear -- it can't be called a "blow-off").  

The fact that this competition included four future Hall of Famers (George Brett, Bert Blyleven, Johnny Bench, and Gary Carter) also lends credence to the fact that professional athletes will compete in anything. Heck, let's add as many other sports stars as want to compete. We'll call it the Goodwin Championship. Upper Deck can release the card set because no one has to dress in anything other than sponsor gear. 

Who's in?

Cards for the Player Collections

1.  Don Money

It looks like the beginning of Don Money's dodgy mustache that he wore from time to time is appearing on his upper lip here. This card was the most recent addition to the Don Money collection linked above.

2.  Gorman Thomas

On the other hand, compared to his scruffy, overgrown look that he sported through the 1980s, Gorman looks entirely clean cut here.  Skinny too. As a side note, he's pictured here wearing the number 44. He had to give that number up after the 1974 season so that Hank Aaron could wear his number.  Thomas was then assigned the number 3 for 1975 and 1976.

When he came back up with the team after Harry Dalton repurchased his contract from the Texas Rangers in the offseason after the 1977 season, Gorman was assigned his trademark number 20. When Gorman was traded in 1983, Don Sutton grabbed 20 immediately. These days, that number is worn by Jonathan Lucroy.

I bought all of these cards from the proprietor of my local show, Frank Moiger. Frank has a great selection of commons from the 1950s through the early 1980s, so if any of you have a want list from those years, please let me know.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Nice hauls. I consider the 1975 Topps Brewers team card to be a Yount rookie card as well since he is featured on it. And I think it was the Night Owl who posted, awhile ago, a great rant by Tommy Lasorda about Kurt Bevacqua. It's the only reason I know how to pronounce his last name

  2. More outstanding pickups! One of the proudest days of my card-collecting life was when I found a copy of that Bevacqua for 50 cents at the local flea market. An iconic piece of cardboard, no doubt.

    I'm also a HUGE Minutemen fan, although I haven't heard much of Watt's solo material.

  3. Love Mike Watt! Saw him live once in 2002.. great show. Also saw him on boomstick for Porno For Pyros a couple times in 96. Always seems like a genuinely super cool guy in interviews.

  4. Love the 70's and of course your card show pickups. And I agree... the Kurt card truly is one of the greatest of all-time.

  5. The Pirates didn't participate in the bubble blowing contest....that makes me sad.