24 November 2011

more 1978 topps through the mail successes to be thankful for

i am thankful for many things, and in the narrow slice of my life that is this hobby, i am thankful for through the mail successes.  in particular, i am thankful for dodger and 1978 topps successes.  here are a number of the latter that i have received in recent months.

we'll start with hall-of-famer phil niekro, who signed (and inscribed) his base card
as well as his league leader card.
i sent phil $20 to cover his fee.  it's hard to imagine a knuckleballer leading the league in strikeouts, but he did.  he also led the league in wild pitches.  the strikeouts weren't a fluke, though.  niekro bested jr richard for the 1977 title by almost 50 strikeouts, and finished 2nd to richard by about the same margin in 1978. 
here's wayne garrett, a guy that niekro struck out 9 times (and walked 10 times), although that's not a 1978 topps card
it's garrett's o-pee-chee card.  i already had a topps card signed by garrett but found this extra opc card and figured what the heck.

back to topps, here's matt alexander
alexander played in the bigs over parts of 9 seasons.  in four of those seasons, he got exactly 1 hit.  in another, he had no hits, although to be fair, he didn't have a plate appearance that year.  he had seasons where he was 1 for 5, 1 for 10, 1 for 30 (!), and 1 for 3.  1978 was his 'at-batless' year, and he spent it in pittsburgh as a pinch runner for the pirates.
billy almon
sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.  that's what billy almon used to make me think of as a kid.  you know, almon(d) joy's got nuts, mounds don't.  i later learned that he was a number one pick overall.
ray burris was a 17th round pick who i remember as an expo
that's because he pitched against the dodgers in the 1981 nlcs.  burris is currently a minor league pitching coach.  i sent $5 for his autograph as he had requested.  apparently his son is serving in afghanistan and burris is sending care packages to help the troops and the locals.  thank you ray!
here's chris chambliss
i a turnaround of my wayne garrett experience, i had an o-pee-chee card signed by chambliss, but not a topps card.  the seattle mariners hitting coach came through for me a second time, and i appreciate it.
here's larry christenson
i enjoy the mlb network.  i don't watch it too much, but i know it's always there for me if the mood strikes.  the other day, they were counting down the top 40 uniforms, and they got to the phillies' all maroon outfits.  they were pretty garish, and apparently panned by all.  anyway, from that show i learned that larry christenson was the starting pitcher the one and only time that those uniforms were worn.
here are a couple of double-ds from the red sox - denny doyle
and dick drago
drago was a red sox double dipper, having spent some time with the angels in between stints with the red sox.  he also served up home run number 755 to henry aaron.
johnny grubb hit career home run number 30 off of drago
he finished his career with 99 round trippers.

larry gura got personal with his autograph
gura charges $2, i think.  i was happy to pay it. gura was one of the better pitchers in the al from about 1978 through 1982.  unfortunately, the royals released him early in the 1985 season, so he missed out on their world championship.
here's another lefty, john hiller
hiller was a lifelong tiger, which is nice.  his story is pretty crazy, though, as he suffered a heart attack when he was 28 (1971) and was released by the team.  they brought him back to pitch batting practice and eventually added him to their roster in 1972.  he pitched well in the alcs that year, and then in 1973, he was the comeback player of the year with 38 saves and 4th place finishes in both the cy young and mvp voting.
jim kern also has a 4th place cy young finish to his credit, although it came with the rangers and not the indians
someday i will do a year-by-year jim kern card retrospective.  it gets pretty hairy.
here's another phillie, randy lerch
lerch pitched in the 1978 nlcs against the dodgers (and lost) but is perhaps best remembered for hitting 2 home runs in the game that clinched the nl east for the phillies that year.  he hit 3 of his 4 career home runs that season.
milt may went the light ballpoint route with his signature
but i am still thankful.  may was apparently going to replace roberto clemente in the pirates' lineup in 1973 with regular catcher manny sanguillen moving to right field, but the pirates wound up sticking with sanguillen behind the plate and may was back to backing up. he later went on to become the regular backstop for the astros, tigers and giants.
hey - here's a 4-in-1 card, although it's signed just by one player, nationals' pitching coach steve mccatty
yes, this card was touched by the guy who is coaching stephen strasburg!  mccatty played billy ball very well.  in 1982, he finished second in the cy young voting after winning 14 games to lead the league in the strike shortened season.  of course, he also had 16 complete games that year, and then pitched another one in the alds against the royals.  as for the other guys, i just know that i will always remember tom hume as one of the people rescued from the top of the mgm casino in vegas when it caught fire in 1980.

here's another 4-in-1, this time signed by lance parrish
i got this signed before parrish started charging for autographs.  i think ernie whitt signs through the mail, but i doubt i will risk it.  parrish almost played for the dodgers, but i was not able to get his lone dodger release signed.
dave tomlin didn't play for the dodgers, either.
but he was 2-0 against them in 26 career games. 

tom veryzer signed his card
and i lament the fact that i did not have an extra 1978 o-pee-chee card for him to sign - it's a nice team and text variation.
gary wheelock
made 17 of his 20 career appearances in 1977.  he pitched in 2 games in 1976 and 1 in 1980 and that was it.  i have a soft spot for gary as he was an anteater like me at uci.  zot!
rick wise signed his card for me in exchange for $5
actually, it was $2.50 because he added a copy of his 1976 topps card when he returned my '78.  wise had some good seasons for the phillies, cardinals and red sox in the late 1960's through the mid 1970's.  unfortunately for him, he went to cleveland in 1978 and lost 19 games.  like randy lerch, wise once hit two home runs in a game; it happened to be the same game in which he threw a no-hitter.
it looks like johnny wockenfuss
goes by john b. wockenfuss these days.  wockenfuss spent 10 years with the tigers only to be traded away on the eve of their historic 1984 season.  of course, without that trade, it is unlikely the tigers would have done as well, as detroit obtained cy young and mvp winner willie/guillermo hernandez in exchange for wockenfuss.
last, but not least, here's jim wohlford
wohlford's card is classic 1978 topps with yankee stadium as a backdrop.  wohlford always struck me as a guy whose head was too big for his body.  that assertion was based solely on this card.  i have no real idea about his cranial proportions.

thanks to all the former players who took (and take) the time to sign.  it is greatly appreciated.

happy thanksgiving!


Laurens said...

Sweet looking autographs!

Spiegel83 said...

May you email me the info for Niekro? I will gladly pay a HOFer 20 bucks for his auto.

Play at the Plate said...

Very nice! Happy Thanksgiving!

Orioles Magic said...

Wow, great autographs!