Saturday, November 22, 2008

1978 Topps Cards #61 through #66


#61 Larvell Blanks
#62 Jim Barr
#63 Don Zimmer Manager
#64 Gene Pentz
#65 Ken Singleton
#66 White Sox

If you're too lazy to download the photo and rotate it, or at least rotate your head, here is the same image rotated. I'm not going to do this in the future.


Good: The Zimmer card, our first manager, shows the awesome way that Topps did manager cards in this set. Showing a picture of the manager as a player was a great idea, and brings some great historical photos into the set. I also really like the way they framed the old photo as if it were a newspaper clipping. It reminds us that in the 1940s and 1950s, the vast majority of what fans knew about players, including their appearances, came from newspapers. Bravo, Topps!

On the back of the Zimmer card, they give his playing stats, plus some managerial hightlights instead of the PLAY BALL game. Nice.

I love the fact that the back of the White Sox team card lists the players' uniform numbers. Uni numbers are becoming a lost item in today's game.

Bad: I love team cards and I am happy to see the White Sox one here, our first in the set. The problem with team cards is that the photos are too small to recognize people. I would love it if, especially, some of the non-player personnel were easier to see or were identified on the back of the card. I believe that not all of the team cards are the same in this set...we'll see some different examples coming up.


Good: There isn't much to like in this set, except for Zimmer's incredible cheeks, Pentz's crazy white man afro and smirk, and the Singleton shot is a fairly nice and unorthodox action photo.

Visible behind Jim Barr is 2B Rob Andrews.

Bad: On Barr's card, Topps managed to get not one, but two guy's faces completely obscured by shadows. That horrible abstract "C" on Blanks' card just ruins it for me, although that's not Topps' fault. And I've already mentioned that the White Sox team photo, as with most team photos, makes it too hard to recognize individual people.


Of his 14 career triples, Larvell Blanks hit two off Ken Holtzman a few weeks apart in 1976. Interestingly, Holtzman was an Oriole when he gave up the first one, but a Yankee when he gave up the second one.

Barr pitched in some bad luck. He had a few seasons with an ERA better than league average but a losing record. His neutralized career record is 120-103 (.538) as compared to his actual numbers: 101-112 (.474).

From 1955 to 1964, Zimmer was among the leaders in most seasons with at least 10 HR but no more than 132 games played. The guy could hit for some power.

Pentz walked too many guys. The guys he walked the most are a Who's Who of some of the best offensive players in the game at the time.

Singleton finished his career with more walks than strikeouts. Among guys who finished with at least 1200 walks, Singleton has one of the lowest strikeout totals in history. He's just ahead of guys like, umm, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Aaron. Many of the players ahead of Ken are guys who played in eras where strikeouts were less common.


Hall of Famers: 11

Deceased: 3

Future managers: 7

Fathers and sons of major leaguers: 5

Loyalty counter: 8

Rookies of the Year: 7

Total all-star appearances: 199
(+1 for Zimmer as a player, +3 for Singleton)

Total MVP awards: 8

Total Cy Young awards: 4


Timberhill said...

Man, I'm loving this blog and all, but I don't know if I can read the backs of this entire set without my head exploding out of grammatical anger.


Blast! I can't tell with the Pentz card, but it would appear they're all sporting pullover jerseys.

Andy said...

Why do you dislike the pullovers so much? I don't even notice the difference myself.

Luke said...

Love the Larvell card.

I actually have this one!

Kevin said...

Man, looking at that picture of Zim, you can see why "Spaceman" Bill Lee called him a gerbil.

Johngy said...

I love the White Sox team card. It shows just how awful those uni's were. How cool would it have been for the team card to feature the shorts?!

--David said...

Ah, Larvell Blanks. Big cheesy grin, fro stickin out the sides of his hat. This is one of the epitome's of 70's baseball! Gotta love it!!

Aside: I had a friend once that gave a presentation in which she said "epi-tome" - as in epilady and a big book. It was hilarious.

White Sox Cards said...

Zimmer looks like the second coming of Nellie Fox in that photo.

night owl said...

The manager cards rule. When these first came out in '78, I couldn't believe how awesome the cards were. I love the backs of those cards -- these guys were players, too!

gcrl said...

i really like the barr card. it's a full body shot, even if it is of a giant.
the 'c' on the indians hats back then always made me think of the flintstones. like it was a 'c' carved out of rock in mr. slate's quarry.

jacobmrley said...

i can't tell if the blanks card is just awful or awful airbrushing...but he was in the middle of his tenure with the tribe, so this might just be bad photograph meets bad uniform design.

the singleton is one of the better pictures so far...great follow through...

guys i've never heard of: #2
1. tom johnson
2. gene pentz

when i plugged gene pentz into google, i got "Did you mean: jane pentz " poor guy...even google doesn't know who he is...

MMayes said...

Check out the 375 sign on the fence behind Rob Andrews in Jim Barr's photo. I think you're going to see a lot of that in cards to come that were action shots taken in Candlestick.

Top 4 Interesting facts about Gene Pentz:
4. From Flood City (Johnstown, PA)
3. His stats show he was wilder than his hair.
2. Spent Halloween 1979 trying to convince people he wasn't trying to play a cruel trick by dressing up as Thurman Munson.
1. Got his only major leage hit off Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter in 1976.

Ben said...

This may sound crazy, but I love manager cards, and this is the first time I've ever seen the manager cards from the 78 set.

I just wish more manager cards would actually talk about the manager and not just be a team checklist.

Timberhill said...

I can't say exactly what it is, I just really don't like pullover baseball jerseys.

Though I own one baseball jersey, a game used Twins jersey from '84, therefore it is a baby blue pullover.

kevinb said...

Ooh ooh ooh Mr. Kotter...that's the card I would vote for if the voting thing was up...also he is the 11th card with Tiger connections, and the first I had to look on the link to the Baseball-reference page to know that...never heard of him before.

Andy said...


Timberhill +2
Luke +1
Kevin +2
Johngy +2
--David +2
White Sox Cards +2
night owl +2
gcrl +2
jacobmrley +3
MMayes +3
Ben +2
kevinb +2