06 December 2010

these were the 1978 topps dodgers in 1967 - a continuing evolution

after don sutton's 1966 debut, the next 1978 topps dodger to make his major league debut was rick monday.

monday first appeared for the kansas city a's in 1966, playing in 17 games and managing a .098 batting average in 41 at bats. he wasn't featured on a card until he appeared with tony pierce on this rookie card:
monday was just 20 years old and one year removed from being the first player selected in the first ever amatuer draft when he debuted on september 3rd against jim lonborg and the red sox. he went 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts. in fact, monday started his career 0 for 15 before doubling against jim palmer for his fist big league hit.

monday played in 124 games for the 1967 a's. he hit 14 home runs and drove in 58 as the a's center fielder. his first career home run broke a 9-9 tie in the top of the 15th inning against the red sox and don mcmahon. unfortunately, the red sox rallied to score twice in the bottom of the 15th to win the game. 11 days later, monday hit the second home run of his career, victimizing don mcmahon once again. he also hit two home runs that season against future dodger teammate al downing, including his first inside the park home run on june 27, 1967.

like monday, reggie smith debuted in september of 1966, 15 days after monday took the field for the first time. he played in 6 games for the red sox that year, but wasn't featured on a topps card until 1967 where he shared space with mike andrews on this card:
reggie was 0 for 9 to start his career before singling off of the yankees' fritz peterson to lead off his third big league game. 1967 brought bigger and better things for smith, as he patrolled center field for the red sox in an outfield that included carl yastrzemski and tony conigliaro, and finished 2nd to rod carew in the american league rookie of the year voting. he hit 15 home runs (his first a lead-off blast coming against whitey ford and the yankees), 24 doubles, scored 78 times, drove in 61 runs and stole 16 bases for the red sox in 1967, helping boston to the world series against the cardinals. in the fall classic, smith hit .250 with 2 home runs and 3 rbi. his 2nd home run of the series broke a 2-2 tie in game 6, a game the red sox had to win to force game 7. they did win that game, but bob gibson shut reggie and the rest of the red sox down in game 7. reggie would not get to another postseason for 10 years.

vic davalillo finished his last full season with the indians in 1967.
after a disappointing 1966 season, davalillo rebounded a bit, raising his average 37 points to .287. he was still cleveland's primary centerfielder, but just barely as he appeared there in just 91 games. he made 20 appearances as a pinch hitter, managing 4 hits.

jerry grote appeared in 120 games for the 1967 new york mets.
grote hit only .195 but was stellar on defense. in over 1000 innings caught, grote made just 5 errors. he also threw out 49% of the base runners who attempted to steal against him. his fourth and final home run of the season was a solo shot against future dodger teammate don sutton.

in 1967, tommy john lowered his era to 2.47 but wound up with a losing record at 10-13. his topps card is a high number in the 1967 set, and cost me around $20 to obtain. thanks topps.
anyway, john made 29 starts and 2 relief appearances in 1967. he had 9 complete games and tied for the league lead in shutouts for the second straight year, this time with 6. he had a string of 5 shutouts in 8 starts from june 1 to july 8. in those games, he had two 3-hitters and a 2-hitter.

manny mota played center and left field in almost equal amounts for the pirates in 1967.
mota also played a bit in right and had a couple of appearances in the infield at third base. he once again hit for high average (.321) but failed to qualify for the batting title race (.321 would have placed 7th in the national league) due to the fact that he played in just 120 games with 417 at bats. as a pinch hitter, mota was 5 for 27 with 6 rbi.

don sutton suffered a bit of a sophomore slump in 1967.
he appeared in the same number of games (37) as he did in his rookie season (with one less start), but his record went from 12-12 to 11-15. his era jumped by about a run to 3.95, and his whip went from 1.08 to 1.20. he pitched 232.2 innings with 11 complete games and 3 shutouts. his best outing of the season was a two-hit shutout of the reds on june 27. he walked none, struck out 11, and retired the final 13 batters he faced. sutton also retired 11 in a row earlier in the contest.

so, those were the 1978 topps dodgers in 1967.

here's the tally so far:

7/27 players featured by topps in 1967

total appearances:

davalillo 5 (1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967)
grote 4 (1964, 1965, 1966, 1967)
john 4 (1964, 1965, 1966, 1967)
lasorda 1 (1954)
monday 1 (1967)
mota 5 (1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967)
smith 1 (1967)
sutton 2 (1966, 1967)

teams represented so far:

9 (dodgers, indians, colt .45's, pirates, white sox, astros, mets, a's, red sox)

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