Friday, November 21, 2008

1978 Topps Cards #55 through #60

THE PLAYERS

#55 Mitchell Page All-Star Rookie
#56 Randy Jones
#57 Dan Meyer
#58 Bob Forsch
#59 Otto Velez
#60 Thurman Munson





THE DESIGN

Good: There are two great things about the Munson card. Firstly, the border colors of purplish-blue and orangey-red nearly match Munson's navy uniform and red catching gear, giving the card very nice color uniformity. Also, on the back, they mention that it was Munson, and not DiMaggio, Mantle, Ford, or anybody else, who became the first captain of the Yankees since Lou Gehrig. That was a very big deal that is often overlooked today.

Bad: The text on the back of Forsch's card might be very confusing to some. First it talks about his pitching, mentioning that "he went distance" against the Expos. The next sentence talks about his hitting in that game, with his 2-RBI double. Then they switch right back to pitching again, talking about his 6 K's, unless Forsch managed to also strike out at the plate 6 times in addition to his double. Messy, messy writing.


THE PHOTOS

Good: I mentioned Munson's card already, and it's Forsch who clearly takes the cake here. With his hair sticking out forward on both sides, it looks like there is a stiff wind coming from behind him. I also like the cocky look that Meyer's got on his face.

Bad: The photo that Topps chose to use for Page's card is among the worst photos ever selected for a baseball card. Where do I start?
  • The yellow on his jersey clashes with the gold All-Star Rookie cup, making this easily the ugliest All-Star Rookie card in any Topps set that I've ever seen.
  • They chose to use a close-up of a guy with frizzy hair and a sparse beard and mustache, which is not a good look in any era. An action shot would have been much better.
  • There is a terrible glare coming off his eyeglasses.
  • The background is very out of focus, making the batting cage and stands look like metal rails going in every direction. It's very distracting and adds nothing to the photo.
  • And did I mention how horrible the hot pink and green color scheme is?
Particularly as an All-Star Rookie selection, Page deserved much, much better.



THE STATS


On the Baseball-Reference.com Stat of the Day Blog, I previously noted that Page is one of just 14 players in history to amass 100 SB and 250 RBI while playing in at most 800 games.

Over the two-year period 1975-1976, Jones had the 2nd-most wins, 3rd-most innings pitched, 4th-most complete games, and the 3rd-most shutouts. Why didn't he continue that success later in his career? Perhaps because over that same period, of the 231 pitchers to throw at least 100 innings, he had the 223rd-best strikeout rate. Wow.

Dan Meyer, not to be confused with the current major leaguer with the same name, once had 7 RBIs in a game, a Mariners victory over the Yankees in 1979.

Despite the fact that I think he was overrated, I'm still surprised that Forsch never received a single Cy Young vote or was ever an All-Star.

Otto Velez could really hit. In baseball history, he's got one of the highest career OPS+ figures for a guy with no more than 2000 career ABs and at least 400 career hits. That list is a little screwy as the first 3 guys don't really count. Players like Ken Phelps, Dick Dietz, and Erubiel Durazo are better comparisons for Velez.

Munson is among a handful of (all good) players since 1940 with 3 seasons with at least 100 RBI but fewer than 20 HR.


THE COUNTERS

Hall of Famers: 11
(none)

Deceased: 3
(+1 for Munson)

Future managers: 7
(none)

Fathers and sons of major leaguers: 5
(none)

Loyalty counter: 8
(+1 for Munson)

Rookies of the Year: 7
(+1 for Munson)

Total all-star appearances: 195
(+2 for Jones, +7 for Munson)

Total MVP awards: 8
(+1 for Munson)

Total Cy Young awards: 4
(+1 for Jones)

21 comments:

gcrl said...

the thing i like best about the munson card is that the gear he is wearing is the same generic orange and black gear we had in little league. there were no style points given for the tools of ignorance back then.

fogus said...

To me, Munson has always been a mythical figure, and this card plays right into that perception.
-m

night owl said...

Yet another in-game shot for the Yankee, while all the others are posed photos. It's a conspiracy I tell you!

Splint Chesthair said...

I think you should keep a running count of the "Play Ball" game as it unfolds with the cards in order. That'd be fun.

Kevin said...

Wait a minute...Mitchell Page was only 25 when that photo was taken? Dude must have had a rough life.

Andy said...

Splint--that is an awesome idea...! I'm going to do it.

Johngy said...

Munson's card is awesome. I think Munson is often forgotten as a future HOF. What might have been.

Randy Jones was a very good pitcher on some very bad teams.
Meyer had a few good years as a hitter.

MMayes said...

Page - that may be the best photo they could get. He was a Cardinal hitting coach a few years ago, but replaced partly because of a drinking problem.

Jones - Pads had some decent pitchers in their early days (Kirby, Dave Roberts, Jones) but they never could put them all together.

Meyer - this card looks a lot like his '76 pose. (https://www.beckett.com/store/HENDO/item/52989903/)

Forsch - he was a good hitting pitcher...much better than 2b Mike Tyson

Velez - I remember him, but not well. Wasn't really a platoon player, but couldn't field a lick.

Munson - one of the great gritty players of all time. I hated the Yankees in the 70's, but had to respect guys like Munson.

Timberhill said...

Is Dan Meyer closely related to Ron Howard?

I'm loving this set; all six guys have an abundance of hair protruding from under their caps, though some more than others (ie Randy Jones and his majestic wings).

I'm hating this set though because of all the ugly pullover jerseys...perhaps I've already mentioned that. Kudos to the Yanks for putting Munson in what I assume is not a pullover under the catcher's garb.

Tom Clancy said...

I'm with Kevin, Mitchell Page looks like he might be a rookie manager, but not a player. Then again, it was the '70s, so those people are old.

Luke said...

Gotta go w/munson on this one.

I have few baseball cards pre - 1984, and Dan Meyer is one of them!

Is that a power line to the upper left in the bob forsch card?

Splint Chesthair said...

Why is one cardinal gold on Forsch's jersey?

kevinb said...

Again with the blue skies, which in my opinion seams to be the common theme of the '78 set...4 of these cards at cloudless skies and the other two were definitly taken on a sunny day.

+10 for my Tiger counter with Dan Meyer, really have no recollection of him though to share an interesting story.

jacobmrley said...

agreed that the mitchell page card proves the 4-foot rule on close-ups. i'll go through my collection of all-star rookies to see if i can find a worse one, though off the top of my head i can't think of one...

jacobmrley said...

i did a little research and came up with 1970 #288 Larry Hisle:

http://www.checkoutmycards.com/CardImages/Cards/027/163/01F.jpg

Bad BHNH picture, unflattering close up, bad trophy placement (a product of the photo's bad cropping) bad colors - washed out worse by the gray borders. this is about as bad a card you could imagine, and then throw in the all-star trophy. bad. bad. bad.


maybe i should start a blog just about the rookie all star cards i have...hmmmmm

George said...

Man, that Dan Meyer card is almost all blue. And what is that wire goal post thing behind him?

Meyer's slightly cocky facial expression does make it seem he is oblivious to the silliness of the card.

The Munson card is classic, not quite the '71 of course, but real nice.

Andy said...

gcrl +1
fogus +1
night owl +1
Splint +5 (special points for suggesting a feature that I picked up)
Kevin +2
Johngy +2
MMayes +2
Timberhill +2
Tom Clancy +1
Luke +1
kevinb +1
jacobmrley +2
George +1


While I appreciate the research, Timberhill, that Hisle card is nowhere close to being as bad as the Page.

jacobmrley said...

i did the research, not timberhill, and i still think the Hisle is much uglier than the page, simply because of the color wash and lack of hat - my absolute pet peeve of baseball cards, players without hats.

Andy said...

Yeah, oops. You guys both comment a lot and I get you confused sometimes.

mab said...

I know I'm late to the party here, but the 1978 Munson card is the one that got me started collecting cards as an eight-year old. At the time, I was a Yankees fan, having seen them play an exhibition in the Superdome.

The Munson card remained on the top of my small stack of cards, secured with a rubber band for many years as a kid.

Thanks for the memory. Love the idea for this site!

CubanXSenators said...

Page won the Sporting News Rookie (Player) of the Year for '77 over Murray.

Here's my theory on Yankee action shots: There were a fixed number of sites at which the cards were shot back in those days. Topps had photographers at Yankee and Shea Stadia, in San Francisco and it looks like in the two LA stadia. Thus they generated a lot more photos of Yankees, yielding cooler results.

One check for this is to note which teams' players are in road unis and which's are in home unis.