Monday, December 1, 2008

1978 Topps Cards #85 through #90


#85 Ron Fairly
#86 Dave Tomlin
#87 John Lowenstein
#88 Mike Phillips
#89 Ken Clay
#90 Larry Bowa


Good: The comment on the back of Tomlin's card reveals a pretty amazing stat if you dig into it. Check out his career pitching splits by opponent. In 52 IP against the Braves, he had a 1.90 ERA, far better than just about every other team except for the Dodgers, against whom he pitched to a 2.06 ERA in 35 IP. His OPS against vs Atlanta was just .587, which is staggering. If you click on the red "ATL" on the left, you can see that in 1976, he pitched 16.1 innings over 7 appearances against the Braves, giving up 11 hits, 5 walks, and no runs.

Bad: This isn't really bad, but I'd like to point out the two card fronts here that show multiple positions inside the baseball. Obviously some guys play multiple positions and that's fine, but the font size on those baseballs is dangerously small.


Good: The best photo here is Larry Bowa. You can almost believe he was a really good hitter looking at this picture.

A while back, a reader mentioned about appearances by the BRUT advertising sign but I can't find the comment. Here is the second appearance on Ken Clay's card.

Bad: Mike Phillip's photo was clearly taken before his June 1977 trade to the Cardinals, since his entire uniform is airbrushed (and pretty poorly airbrushed at that. Seriously, I can live with his hat or the fake-looking stripes on his uniform. But look at his shoulders and the rest of his chest. It's just all white with no attempt at any sort of definition. It's clearly not a real jersey since there is no hint of a team name on there. Yuck.

All I have to say about Lowenstein's picture is this: "My name is John Lowenstein. You killed my father. Prepare to die."


Ron Fairly is tied with Yaz for most seasons all-time with between 10 and 19 HR. That's kind of wild considering that Yaz played only 2 seasons more than Fairly but ended up with a lot more career homers (452 vs 215.)

Dave Tomlin appeared in just 1 major-league game in 1985, getting a scoreless inning. Boy was he lucky to get a scoreless inning. Pitching in the fifth, he got pitcher Bryn Smith to fly out. Then Tim Raines singled and stole second. With UL Washington batting, Tomlin threw a wild pitch to put Raines on third. Then he walked Washington. Then he got Andre Dawson to ground into a double play.

Lowenstein was a pretty good player, and for one year he was an incredible slugger. Lowenstein's 1982 makes the top 20 for most total bases by a guy with fewer than 400 PAs in a season. Look at the other names on there--most of them are great players who had short seasons. Lowenstein sticks out as the only guy who didn't get much playing time, having surpassed 350 ABs in a season just once in his career.

Mike Phillips didn't have a great offensive career, but he did hit quite well as the first batter in a game. In those 56 games (and 56 plate appearances) Phillips had an OBP of .375 and a SLG of .449, including 3 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homer, and 7 walks.

Ken Clay gave up 35 homers in his career, including pairs to George Brett, Bobby Grich, Wayne Gross, and Toby Harrah. He also gave up one to another guy in this group of cards: Ron Fairly.


Hall of Famers: 12

Deceased: 4

Future managers: 8
(+1 for Bowa)

Fathers and sons of major leaguers: 7

Loyalty counter: 10

Rookies of the Year: 8

Total all-star appearances: 231
(+2 for Fairly, +5 for Bowa)

Total MVP awards: 9

Total Cy Young awards: 4


gcrl said...

i have to go with ron fairly here. the blue jay cards from 1978 were the first real opportunity for me to see the actual jerseys, and fairly shows off most of the 'toronto' lettering here. plus, fairly is a former student of rod dedeaux, a dodger world series hero, and the first guy to play for both canadian teams.

Andy said...

I had the distinct displeasure of hearing Ron Fairly do baseball broadcasts for the Mariners. He's one of the worst broadcasters I've ever heard.

night owl said...

Lowenstein would fit perfectly in Princess Bride! Nice reference.

Clay is one of the exceptions to the "every Yankee must be an action shot" in this set. Actually there are several others (Holtzman, Paul Blair, Cliff Johnson, Piniella, Figueroa).

Ron Fairly could've been a four-decade player if he had just put in two more years.

Timberhill said...

The Lowenstein pic is weirding me out.

Something about the way his chin appears to be in front of his left shoulder is giving me buggly eyes. Almost like his face has been photoshopped onto another body.

Or maybe it's just me.

Kevin said...

Brother Lo! I currently have the pleasure of sponsoring his B-R page.

There are lots of great stories out there about him. John Shelby talks about how Lowenstein used to be called upon to inspect cakes that people would send to the O's clubhouse as gifts. He would spend a few moments carefully sizing up the cake before smashing it to bits with his bat. Then he would say something like, "That was a good one".

MMayes said...

This is a very nondescript bunch of ballplayers. The best of the bunch was Bowa, but his card here is like a glamour shot that makes the pig-faced girl look like a prom queen.

Not that Bowa is ugly or anything. He was a slappy, but here he looks fearsome. He's quite the hothead, but here, he looks contemplative and peaceful. And, like Umpire Ed Montague found out in 2008, he didn't even like wearing the batting helmet in the 70's.

My feeling on why there was no action shot of Ken Clay: Ken Clay saw little action.

Anonymous said...

The Blue Jays need to go back to the jerseys of the 1970s.

Matt said...

The Lowenstein photo bothers me too. I think it is because it appears that he is following through on a swing, but he's facing the opposite direction. Very weird an unnatural pose.

Johngy said...

I went with Fairly. I like the uniforms and the shadowing. This lot is pretty bad, so Fairly takes advantage of a bad field!

Andy said...

I'll tell you what I love about the Fairly card. I should have put this in the main post. There is an awesome depth to the stands behind him, going deep into the background of the card. On the left, there are two ushers wearing red caps--probably two older gentlemen looking forward to another great day of baseball. That's pretty awesome.

Luke said...

+ Ron Fairly. The name reminds me of a news anchor. RON FAIRLY AT 11!

+ Tomlin: Another inspector gadget 'doo

+ Ken Clay: Could it be? Tom Gorzelanny?

Jeffrey Wolfe said...

What a horrible airbrush! I love it. I agree with thewritersjourney the Blue Jays need to bring the old jerseys back. And I love the Kimosabee grammar on the card backs. "Can hit in clutch." By adding the player's last name and a "the" before "clutch" this would have been an actual sentence. Come on Topps, make your free throws.

White Sox Cards said...

Whenever the wind whistles through the leaves, I'll think "Lowenstein", " Lowenstein".

Rick Rodriguez said...

I voted for Lowenstein because of where the photo was taken--the Oakland Coliseum. It's amazing how many baseball players were photographed at the Oakland Coliseum.

What's the story with your 1971 Topps wantlist? What trade do you propose and what condition do you need?

kevinb said...

I voted for Meathead in the upper right corner because it used to make me laugh when him and Archie would mix it up.

Yes..I second the Blue Jays need to go back to these uniforms

jacobmrley said...

i voted for the bowa as the least of six evils here. for a batch of 6 head shot/posed shots, these are six fugly dudes. and is it me, or does bowa look like a less squinty-eyed roger waters in the this picture?

and while i'm ragging on looks (pot meet kettle) does ken clay look like some 15 year old who duped the photog, a-la gary pettis and aurelio rodriguez? (catch that vague dual reference...)

john lowenstein? what kind of jew comes from montana? are there that many synagogues in the badlands? do the prairie dogs have to wear yalmukahs? (sic?)

and mike phillips, couldn't they have airbrushed his face to look like his IQ might be above 70?

this post brought to you by the spirit don rickles, ya hockey puck. tip your waitress, i'll be here all week...