Wednesday, December 3, 2008

1978 Topps Cards #97 through #102

THE PLAYERS

#97 Stan Bahnsen
#98 Jim Essian
#99 Willie Hernandez
#100 George Brett
#101 Sid Monge
#102 Matt Alexander




THE DESIGN

Good: The cool design feature to notice is the All-Star shield on Brett's card. We've seen one already in this set, but here it's worth noting that Topps elimianted the baseball from the cards of the guys on the All-Star team and instead put their position inside the shield. Back in 1978, shields were still cool.

Bad: Naughty, naught. The "P" inside the baseball on Bahnsen's card is way off center, almost on the stitches.


THE PHOTOS

Good: Essian's card is pretty cool. I really like the flags in the background--can anybody identify what those flags are for? I also really like the nearly full-body shadow on Alexander's card, plus the shadow of the batting cage.

Bad: Unfortunately, there's a lot to hate in this group. The three head shots on the left are all bad, with goofy expressions from all three guys. Those pajamas Bahnsen is wearing are ridiculous (although not the photographer's fault.) The Alexander photo is horrible, with so much overexposure that the logo on his cap isn't visible and his uniform looks lime green.

I also, perhaps surprisingly, hate the Brett card. I'm not a fan of players appearing without a cap or helmet, such as Tony Perez early in this set. I also don't like that Brett's got a huge wad of what is likely tobacco in his cheek. I know that the 1970s were not a time of addiction awareness and I can't really fault Topps for showing this photo, but to me it just doesn't stand up over time. I hate the card.



THE STATS


Bahnsen is the second most-recent Yankee to strike out the side in his major league debut.

I check most players' HR logs and Jim Essian's is unusual. It's rare to find a guy who has at least 2 homers more against one guy than against anybody else. In other words, players with fewer than 50 career HR usually have 1 against a bunch of guys and 2 against a few pitchers. In Essian's case, he had 3 off Paul Thormodsgard and 1 off everybody else. The same is true for guys with lots of homers. Reggie Jackson, for example, had 8 off Wilbur Wood, 7 against two guys, 6 against a handful of guys, etc.

Sid Monge has the 11th most-recent season with no more than 4 game starts and at least 2 complete games. Back on Sammy Stewart's page on the 88 Topps Cards blog, I noted how 3 guys did it in 1980.

Matt Alexander had only 36 career hits but did have two 3-hit games.

THE COUNTERS

Hall of Famers: 13
(+1 for Brett)

Deceased: 4
(none)

Future managers: 9
(+1 for Essian)

Fathers and sons of major leaguers: 7
(none)

Loyalty counter: 12
(+1 for Brett)

Rookies of the Year: 9
(+1 for Bahnsen)

Total all-star appearances: 248
(+3 for Hernandez, +13 for Brett, +1 for Monge)

Total MVP awards: 10
(+1 for Hernandez, +1 for Brett)

Total Cy Young awards: 5
(+1 for Hernandez)

20 comments:

White Sox Cards said...

Those could be championship flags and a POW/MIA flag. It's too early in the morning to figure out the location of Essian's photo.

Mike Mayes said...

I know Stan Bahnsen was towards the end of his career and he was transforming from a good starter to a good reliever, but he looks like he's the 48 year old uncle that staggers in about 2 hours late for Christmas.

The thing I like about the Brett card is that it does a great job of capturing the essence of Brett being a dirtball hustler. A lot of the "get their uniform dirty" guys you think of are guys with minimal talent (Eckstein, Rex Hudler, Tanner from the Bad News Bears, etc.) but there are a few who are HOF caliber (Pete Rose, Brett, Biggio). While you can't see if his uniform's dirty, you see Brett with the big chaw (I agree -- YUCK), the hair messed up and the half-sneer on his face as he's watching somebody on the field.

Matt Alexander looks to me as if he's doing a John Lowenstein impression -- or he's recreating the pose of a swing and miss. Matt's also a stud in 1979 Strat-O-Matic (if you don't go by at-bat restrictions). While his career batting average was only .214, he hit .538 in 1979 for the Pirates (9/16). He also had more runs scored than hits for every year of his career and his career ratio was almost 3:1 (because he was the successor to Herb Washington). I wonder if anyone, other than Herb, even approaches this career ratio for as many games played as Matt.

Johngy said...

Allan Lewis (the Panamanian Express) was the predecessor to Herb Washington. His stats are:
Seasons-6 (1967, 68, 69, 70, 72, 73)
Games-156
AB-29
Hits-6
Runs-47
RBI-3
SB-44
HR-1

I totally agree on the Bahnsen card. Horrible uni. Horrible picture. Horrible facial expression. I always wondered if any player ever asked to be included in the process of selecting the photo used.

I must say, I also like the Brett card. I think it is just such a slice in time of Brett and the 70's.

gcrl said...

it's the brett card for me. again, it is pure 1978, just like the richie hebner card earlier.
jim essian was later reincarnated as bob brenly. actually, essian was twice traded for dick allen. first, the phillies sent him to the braves as part of a deal to get allen. then the braves sent him to the white sox to complete the original deal that brought allen to atlanta in the first place.
finally, we'll see matt alexander's pose again on the glenn burke card. if not others.

Timberhill said...

Jesus, and I thought the last 6 cards were bad.

Could someone clue me in as to what Essian is wearing? Were those the White Sox actual jerseys that year, or is it a spring training/batting practice jersey? Also, what is on the back of it? It almost looks like it may say Chicago White Sox on the back. Anyone?

night owl said...

I do like the Brett card. The photo sums him up perfectly, and the chaw is the clincher.

Bahnsen's cap looks like his dog got it and rolled it something stinky.

Matt said...

Stan Bahnsen looks like the guy who coached my little league team when I was 8 or 9. Kinda looks like they just pulled some guy out of the stands and said "Stan isn't here today but we need a picture for his baseball card. Would you like to pose for it?"

Johngy said...

Timberhill-
Essian is wearing an official uniform from that era. The Sox switched from the red and blue (my favorite) to these uniforms which looked like softball uniforms, complete with untucked jerseys. Worse yet were the shorts that were an alternate. I believe they wore them only once or twice.

steveisjewish said...

http://weeklydrop.com/george-brett-shits-himself/

treat yourself

Luke said...

I love these photos. Great stuff

Matt's card has alot of green in it, and now looking at him, for some reason, i want to say "candyman" three times.

Kevin said...

Jim Essian had some style when it came to catcher's gear.

jacobmrley said...

u-g-l-y these card aint got no alibi...

i voted for brett only because it's george freakin' brett. some men have earned the benefit of the doubt.

sid monge is one of those guys i never saw pitch, but i feel like i did since i have every worthless card of him ever printed several times over...

this is 'willie' hernandez's rookie card. he would years later switch to the spanish 'guillermo' and topps would go with him. the most blatant americanization of a name is, of course, 'bob' clemente. bob? really topps? bob? were the late 50's so xenophobic that 'bob' seemed ok for roberto?

of course, this once worked in reverse. 'jorge' bell became george bell. can anyone think of any other reverse xenophobic cards?

i fixed my html, so these links should be gold...

Jeffrey Wolfe said...

I agree with everyone on two points. First, Bahnsen does look like they pulled somebody's drunk uncle out of the stands for the photo. Second, the Brett card is totally seventies and I love it. A classic card I've never seen before. Although I agree with Andy that promoting tobacco is terrible, there is a certain retro charm to it as well. To answer Timberhill's question, I believe those are the White Sox actually game jerseys and the back says Essian.

Jeffrey Wolfe said...

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I like the counters. I didn't realize at first that dude was THAT Willie Hernandez who won a Cy Young for the '84 Tigers as their closer and it also reminded me of Essian's brief managerial career. Great stuff.

ajnrules said...

Surprised nobody mentioned this yet but...

George Brett got his first major league hit off of none other than Stan Bahnsen.

Ben said...

On the uniforms... in a player's Baseball Reference.com page there's a link to the Hall of Fame's site that gives a timeline of the uniforms that player wore during his career. Kinda interesting.

kevinb said...

2 '84 Tigers here...the MVP and CY Young Willie Hernandez and Sid Monge who was brought in at the tail end of the season. Brings my Tiger counter to 16, with 3 being '84 Tigers.

Voted for Hernandez because he looks rough and tough in his afro puffs.

George said...

All 6 in this set have varying degrees of facial hair, from the 5 o'clock shadow of Bahnsen, slightly more on Brett, the Monge teen mustache, Alexander's and Essian's regular staches, and Willie's full one going around his lips. His is the best of these 6.

Eric Stephen said...

I actually like the Brett card. While I can't condone the tobacco use, he still looks pretty cool in that card. Brett has the look of a man who said, "In 3 years, I'm gonna hit .390 despite a pain in the ass."

Also, somewhat relevant to the Bahnsen/Brett link is that Sid Monge gave up the first career hit in 1982 to Tony Gwynn, who lined a double to CF:

http://tinyurl.com/6bbb6a

Christopher said...

A while back there was a pretty funny post about the Bahnsen card over at Cardboard Gods:

http://cardboardgods.baseballtoaster.com/archives/868201.html

It pretty much nails down all that's said about this card here.