Tuesday, December 2, 2008

1978 Topps Cards #91 through #96

THE PLAYERS

#91 Oscar Zamora
#92 Adrian Devine
#93 Bobby Cox manager
#94 Chuck Scrivener
#95 Jamie Quirk
#96 Baltimore Orioles




BRUT sign sighting #3 on Jamie Quirk's card. It's also directly behind Adrian Devine and not visible.

THE DESIGN

Good: Topps gets good marks for consistency. The back of Devine's card not only again mentions a low-place finish in the Fireman of the Year award, but also mentions our old friend Steve Foucault again.

I guess they also smelled a rat with Jamie Quirk, ignoring anything they might have said about his 3 years in the majors and instead pulling out a stat from his minor league days.

Bad: The Zamora card is extremely odd. First of all, the guy did not play in the big leagues in 1977. He didn't even play in the minors in 1977. He wasn't a star player prior to then. Why in the world did Topps include his card in this set? I can't see any possible rationale where they thought it made sense. Can anybody come up with a plausible explanation? Furthermore, he signed with the Astros on November 17, 1977. I'm shocked that they were able to include him in this set as an Astro, even though the photo is obviously airbrushed. Back in the 70s, did cards come out right at the end of the calendar year like they do now? If so, I can't imagine how they had enough time to prepare the Zamora card. (We'll get to the photo on the Zamora card below...)

THE PHOTOS

Good: Quirk continues the streak of very nice Brewers cards. I don't know why, but it seems that Topps really wanted to make the Brewers look good in this set. Thier cards are all poses so far, but they are great posed shots. Quirk's bat going right into the foreground of the card is awesome.

I also really like that Bobby Cox has the same pose and expression in both his photos...he just looks a lot older. Younger readers of this blog will probably be shocked to realize that Cox was manager of the Braves in the late 70s and early 80s before returning as manager in 1990, a position he still holds today.

Bad: The Orioles team card is perfectly nice except for the added photo on the left of an extra guy. I'll let Kevin comment on who this is and why it might be there. Had it been me, I would have simply left that guy off, or at least tried to get a photo of him with a black background so it blended a little better.

Nice random fat guy in the background of Scrivener's card.

And at last we come back to that Zamora card. Clearly this was airbrushed, and probably hastily too after he signed with the Astros in very late 1977. I've already talked about how odd the mere inclusion of his card in this set was. However, the airbrushing itself is weird too. I swear it looks like his face has been significantly airbrushed. I also wonder whether Zamora's left eye was naturally closed up as in the photo, or if they chose a terrible photo to use for the airbrushing. All around, this is a horrible and very puzzling card. I give it two big "WTFs" way up.



THE STATS


For whatever it's worth (and it's not worth much) there have been only 9 seasons in history where a pitcher finished 31 games and saved 10 of them. Oddly, Zamora did it in both of his first two seasons and is the only guy to do it more than once.

Devine had two stints with the Braves and two stints with the Rangers. He was traded twice between the teams in two memorable exchanges:

December 8, 1977
: Traded as part of a 4-team trade by the Texas Rangers with Tommy Boggs and Eddie Miller to the Atlanta Braves. The Atlanta Braves sent Willie Montanez to the New York Mets. The Texas Rangers sent a player to be named later and Tom Grieve to the New York Mets. The Texas Rangers sent Bert Blyleven to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pittsburgh Pirates sent Al Oliver and Nelson Norman to the Texas Rangers. The New York Mets sent Jon Matlack to the Texas Rangers. The New York Mets sent John Milner to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Texas Rangers sent Ken Henderson (March 15, 1978) to the New York Mets to complete the trade.

December 6, 1979: Traded by the Atlanta Braves with Pepe Frias to the Texas Rangers for Doyle Alexander, Larvell Blanks, and $50,000.

It's amazing how many of these guys we've already seen on this blog, including Montanez, Matlack, Blanks, as well as Alexander's 1973 Topps card. I also like that there were two Milners involved in that first trade.

Bobby Cox hit 9 career homers, but a whopping two-thirds of them either tied the game or put the Yankees ahead.

Scrivener's best career game came in 1976 when he had 3 hits, including a homer, against the Indians.

Speaking of trades, look at this crappy pair that the Brewers made:

December 6, 1976: Traded by the Kansas City Royals with a player to be named later and Jim Wohlford to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jim Colborn and Darrell Porter. The Kansas City Royals sent Bob McClure (March 15, 1977) to the Milwaukee Brewers to complete the trade.

August 3, 1978: Traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Kansas City Royals for Gerry Ako (minors) and cash.

That's how they acquired Jamie Quirk from the Royals and then sent him back there. All they did was lose Darrell Porter in the meantime, for essentially nothing.


THE COUNTERS

All counters are zero for this set except for Scrivener being with the Tigers for his entire career.

Hall of Famers: 12
(none)

Deceased: 4
(none)

Future managers: 8
(none)

Fathers and sons of major leaguers: 7
(none)

Loyalty counter: 11
(+1 for Scrivener)

Rookies of the Year: 8
(none)

Total all-star appearances: 231
(This is the first set of cards without any All-Star appearances. Of course, if we were counting Cox's appearances as manager or the appearances of the individual Orioles on the team card, then there'd be plenty.)

Total MVP awards: 9
(none)

Total Cy Young awards: 4
(none)

14 comments:

Johngy said...

My memory might be failing, but I think Topps bb cards came out after the new year, like even in Feb. or so. It seems they have been coming out earlier and earlier since I was a kid.
As for Zamora, yikes! I remember the Cubs announcers (especially Jack Brickhouse) always used to say, "We need some-more-of Zamora." That rhyme might have worked if Zamora was good, but he wasn't. That pretty much sums up the Cubs of the 70's.

gcrl said...

i agree with johngy. the cards were released much closer to the start of the season back then.
i am one of the older readers who remembers bobby cox as a braves manager before he was a blue jays manager.
here, i like the jamie quirk card. too bad he had such a bad postseason performance. 5 ks in 14 ab.
finally, i took a peek at zamora's wikipedia page - it features a little ditty to the tune of "that's amore", created by cubs fans:
When the pitch is so fat
That the ball meets the bat
That's Zamora

--David said...

Man, that is one heck of a closeup on Zamora. Devine almost looks like he was pasted onto the card. I think it's stripe down the right leg. The Cox is cool with the matching poses. Scriviner is staring hard off the shot at something. I love the barrel shot on Quirk, too. I wonder if the photogs liked setting those up as much as the collectors enjoy seeing them.

fogus said...

I always kinda knew that Jamie Quirk had been around forever, but it didn't really hit home until now. I remember that the Orioles had him in 1989, a year in which he was released by 3 teams. He was the master of the 1-year contract. Quirk is one of those guys that sort-of hung around in the bigs because... well... because he had always been around. Teams love those catchers filled with Veteranicity.
-m

Matt said...

I didn't realize that Jamie Quirk played for 18 seasons. Is that the most seasons that anyone has played and never was an all-star?

Timberhill said...

It's important to teach children at a young age to steer clear of Adrian Devine.

This group of cards is terrible. Zamora has the terrible photo and airbrush. Devine looks like a sex offender. Cox's card is boring given the same pose/expression in each pic, and the back focuses on his poor playing career as he had no managerial record yet. Scrivener swaps kiddie porn with Devine. Quirk has a cool pose but looks like a doofus. And yeah, the Orioles team card would be fine if it weren't for the added face.

Kevin said...

Andy emailed me to inquire about the Orioles team card, prompting me to study it way too closely. I'm reasonably sure that it is pitcher Rudy May, who has an excellent action shot elsewhere in this set. He's the only darker-skinned Oriole on the checklist who I could not identify in the group photo. As to why he's not there, that's still a mystery. He was with the club all year in 1977, and won a career-high 18 games.

night owl said...

Yeah, the cards in the '70s were released much later than now. I remember getting my first cards in very late February or even March. I think in 1977 I saw a rack-pack in a store in late January, and I was stunned that the cards were out so early.

That Zamora card is one of those cards we would rip on as youngsters. In trades with my brothers and friends, we would slip cards like Zamora in with the other cards that the person traded for and they'd shriek when they saw it and throw it back at us.

The Red Sox team cards are the kings of the "player wasn't there" insert photos. There are always two or three heads floating above the rest of the Red Sox team. When Topps resumed the practice of issuing team cards, I noticed the Red Sox were still doing that.

White Sox Cards said...

The Quirk card is a thing of beauty. The Zamora is as odd as his career.

Andy said...

As a point of interest, here is Zamora's 1975 card right here. His left eye is also a bit closed in that one, so I guess it was a feature of his face and not a bad photo selection.

Jeffrey Wolfe said...

The Zamora card is one of the oddest I've seen. Horrible airbrush, even the scenery behind him seems fabricated. A very late edition to the set as well. The only thing I can say is this. Back when Topps had in this case 726 cards in the set and even more so when they went to 792 and very few subsets and no inserts they really would put every player in and even stretch for a few more to fill out the set kinda like Topps Total. Nowadays you never have this situation with all the meaningless subsets (see Upadates and Highlights) dozens of AA prospects and inserts and so on. You only get maybe the top dozen guys from each team if you are lucky. A guy like Zamora would have never have had a Topps card in 2008.

jacobmrley said...

we have a 'z' and a 'q' in this batch of cards - betcha that doesn't happen again.

jamie quirk is one of my all time favorite scrub catchers. (also: rick dempsey, rick cerone, mackey sasser, tom prince, and recently sal fasano) you know, guys who seem so out of place in a world class athletic endeavor, yet they have a skill that few possess. they can catch and they do it forever. and until recently, jamie quirk was the all-time home run leader for guys who's names start with the letter q. the unworthy mark quinn tops him now; it would have been better had carlos quintana stayed healthy and not fat.

with all this talk of oscar zamora, we completely forgot to point out that this is bobby cox's managerial rookie, and he is still managing the braves today, with a GM and Toronto sabbatical. but still, 30 years is 30 years and he shows no signs of stopping. i hate the braves (mets fan) but you have to respect the man. plus he holds the record of getting tossed from a game the most times (apologies to leo durocher, earl weaver and kevin)

and now, oscar zamora. ok, he did pitch 10 games for houston in 1978. perhaps when they signed him they named him the closer or called him a key part of their future. who knows? it is odd, but not unprecedented. jerry hairston has cards for years he missed. he was out of baseball from 1978-1981, then he played 8 more years. so slightly different, but it was the closest thing i could think of off the top of my head. jim eisenrich (torrettes'), steve howe (cocaine) and mike hampton (torn everything) are 2 others i can think of who got cards in the middle of long stretches where they didn't play.

topps baseball cards used to come out in early to mid february. i remember 1988 topps didn't come out until almost march for some reason lost in time (to tie the other blog together with this one). much like the xmas season, cards started coming earlier and earlier to the point that the 2005 update has 2005 stats on them, and they came out in november! they stopped doing that so as not to rush and confuse things...2006-2008 update has no such issue. the last couple years, new topps cards have started in january, and that is an acceptable time. i like mid-feburary myself, but old habits die hard.

MMayes said...

Zamora -- He even sucked at AAA in '76 & '77. 18 of the last 19 games he pitched in (last 9 in '76 and all 10 of '78) were losses. If Chuck Nevitt of the mid-'80's Lakers was the 7'6" Human Victory Cigar, Oscar was the crushed out butt.

Devine -- In this photo the perm makes him look like either Weird Al Yankovic or a grown up Napoleon Dynamite. I'll go with Weird Al because Devine did not have "mad skills."

Quirk -- for some reason I always hated him. I never met him. He never really cost the Royals any games, but I always hated him. I remember him starting to show up in Street & Smith around '73 on the 40 man rosters as a minor league shortstop. I do think being George Brett's best (but hopefully not the rumored "special") friend is what kept him in the bigs so long.

kevinb said...

Scrivener brings the count to 14 players with Tiger connections

Oscar Zamora is still around, except he is now known as Painty the Pirate as he sings the SpongeBob Squarepants theme song. Here is a current picture:
http://thegamedame.com/images/blog/painty.jpg