30 March 2015

a dodger black armband for a teammate's wife and some cards that should have been

ken mcmullen, a dodger double dipper and third baseman, lost his 30-year old wife bobbie to breast cancer in april of 1974, just five months after she had given birth to their third child.  he laid his wife to rest on april 8 while most of his teammates (i believe don sutton attended the funeral) were in atlanta to take on the braves.  that night, the dodgers wore a black armband on their left sleeves in honor of mcmullen's wife.  that also happened to be the night that hank aaron hit career home run number 715 to break babe ruth's career home run record.  here's the 1994 topps card that celebrates the 20th anniversary of hammerin' hank's historic home run.
this card represents the mcmullen memorial in my collection because the black armband is visible on al downing's left arm in the background photo.  joe ferguson, the catcher, is wearing the armband, too, but it is obscured by the home plate umpire, satch davidson.

it's too bad that topps didn't find a way to incorporate photos from the game into the 1975 set.  while i appreciate the 1994 card, i decided to try my hand at making some cards that should have been.

here's the card that topps did include in the set - at number 1, in fact.
now here's my take on it
this card gives us the black armbands on both ferguson and dodger shortstop bill russell.  here's another version using a color photo
now we see the armband on downing again, along with one of the guys who chased aaron around the bases.

speaking of downing, even though he allowed the home run (which tied the game), there's no shame in being linked to that kind of history. so, why not use a photo from that night on his card in the set?
and look - there's steve garvey lurking in the background!

i like this card better than his actual card from the set
even though it does feature dodger stadium in the background.

downing walked the next two batters after allowing the home run to aaron, and was removed from the game by manager walt alston.  here's a card showing downing on his way back to the dugout with alston having just handed the ball over to mike marshall
here's the full mound scene, with marshall and garvey, and davidson, i believe.
mcmullen returned to the dodgers and resumed his pinch-hitter role later that week, which must have been difficult even though it seems to be what she would have wanted based on this article from the associated press.  as for the dodgers, they have not worn black armbands since this particular memorial.  fortunately, lots of evidence of the memorial worn for ken mcmullen's wife exists, just not much on cardboard.


Nick said...

I would've LOVED to see either of those Downings in '75 Topps.

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

Great post, fantastic tribute. I had no idea that it has been so long since the Dodgers had worn a memorial armband.

BobWalkthePlank said...

Awesome post!

gcrl said...

Thanks for the comments guys. John, the dodgers went away from the armband in favor of number or name patches for those memorials that followed such as gilliam, campy, drysdale, pee wee, and duke.

Mark Hoyle said...

I still remember that night as if it was yesterday. Watched the game with my Dad. Didn't know about the arm band for McMullens wife.

Unknown said...

It truly shows that the Dodgers are, or at least in those days were, a family. We may never again, due to free agency, see the likes of that kind of loyalty by both player and team again. Some exceptions, I know, Ripkins, Jeter and maybe a couple more.
Overall, very nicely done, my complements. Just one thing, MY FAVORITE DODGER OF ALL TIME, JOE FERGUSON was omitted on your infield. God bless all.