Sunday, July 31, 2022

The Trading Post #171: Card Hemorrhage

Every once in a while, for no particular reason, one of my longtime readers will send me an envelope full of cards. There is always a nice mix of Rockies when that happens, but sometimes it includes vintage goodies that are great additions to my collection but that I would be unlikely to buy for myself.

That exact thing happened last December (sorry) with Jay from Card Hemorrhage, who sent cards ranging from active Rockies to vintage all the way back to 1967.

1972 Topps #330 Jim Hunter

Vintage cards of Hall of Famers don't just grow on trees, especially when they predate the overproduction era by well over a decade. This 1972 card of Jim Hunter is certainly not what I expected to find in my mailbox that day. Jim Hunter, better known as "Catfish", was a Cy Young Award winner, five-time World Series champion, 1987 inductee into Cooperstown, and made an appearance on my second-ever blog post.

The card back from this '72 does refer to him by his commonly known nickname (in fact his Baseball-Reference page doesn't even list his birth name), and mentions that he never played in the minors. He joined up with the Kansas City Athletics as a fresh-faced 19-year old, and stayed in the Majors up to his retirement in 1979. Sadly, he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS) and died at the young age of 53 in 1999.

The cartoon and trivia question on the card back digs deep into the baseball vault, "before baseball was even baseball" as one of my favorite sportswriters puts it when referring to the game in the 19th century. We're asked, "How many runs did Guy Hecker score, 8-15-86?"

Now, when I see a date like that, I of course jump to 1986, but since this card is from 1972, clearly they mean 1886. Card companies do like to make predictions about who will end up in the Hall of Fame, but even they wouldn't look at a specific date that far in the future.

In any case, seven. The answer is seven.

Even in 1972, I can't imagine there were many who had a vivid enough memory to recall 1886.

1972 O-Pee-Chee #229 Steve Blass WS

On the other hand, the 1971 World Series was fresh in everyone's mind when Topps printed the psychedelic tombstone set. And it still was when O-Pee-Chee printed their Canadian equivalents that same year, and this is indeed an OPC card.

Card #229 in both sets featured a photo of Steve Blass, who went the distance in Game 7 to secure the championship for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Notching the W in complete fashion during Game 7 of the World Series is something that hasn't been done since Jack Morris in 1990, and Blass is in some very elite company for turning in that kind of performance. Names like Bob Gibson (twice), Sandy Koufax, Johnny Podres who finally sealed the deal for Brooklyn in 1955, Dizzy Dean, and others. 

Remembering that the flamethrowing closer Aroldis Chapman appeared in 2016's Game 7 with two outs in the 8th inning (only to immediately lose a three run lead), I think it's safe to say we have seen the last of complete games in Game 7.

The card back simply contains the box score (as well as a couple section headings in both English and French). On it, you'll find names like Clemente, Stargell, and two Robinsons on the Baltimore side.

Simple and timeless.

2021 Topps Heritage #151 Josh Naylor

Topps reused the 1972 design in the 2021 Heritage set, and to my eye, they did a pretty nice job. Jay threw in a copy of Josh Naylor's card, Cleveland's Canadian-born first baseman/right fielder. Naylor suffered a bad leg injury last season, but has recovered well and has proven to be an entertaining, high-energy player for the Guardians.

The trivia question on the back is a bit closer to the realm of recent history than we saw on Catfish Hunter's card. "How many intentional walks did Roger Maris get when he hit 61 homers in 1961?"

Famously, it was zero, because he had Mickey Mantle protecting him in the lineup. And Mantle hit 54 of his own that year, a career high. There was no easy way through that lineup.

1980 Topps #104 Manny Mota

Moving forward a few years in the Topps timeline, we come to 1980. This was near the end of Manny Mota's career, leaving his mark with a 20-year career. He spent most of that with the Dodgers and Pirates, along with brief stints as a Giant and Expo. His final season was 1982, if you can call it a season. Really it was just one at-bat in a September game against the Cardinals.

Manny went on to coach the Dodgers until 2013. His sons Andy and José both played in the Major Leagues in the early 1990s. You'll find each of them in a few of the many overproduction-era sets you have stashed away. Try 1992 Fleer.

1980 O-Pee-Chee #38 John Milner DP

Crossing the border again brings us to another Canadian-printed O-Pee-Chee card, this one of Pirates outfielder John Milner. He was fresh off winning his first and only World Series ring as a member of the 1979 "We Are Family" team that sported these bright yellow uniforms.

His cousin Eddie played for the Reds and Giants throughout the 1980s, and his 1987 card looks so familiar that I'm almost certain it was in the first pack of cards I ever got.

1967 Topps #56 José Tartabull

The oldest card in this envelope was of Cuban-born outfielder José Tartabull. He's pictured here on the 1967 set as a member of the Boston Red Sox, when he was teammates with Carl Yastrzemski. He was also teammates with Catfish Hunter for a few seasons during his time with the Kansas City Athletics. After his time in Boston, he wrapped up his career by joining the Athletics again, this time after they moved to Oakland. 

He, too, is a baseball dad, as his son Danny played with the Mariners, Royals, Yankees, and others during the '80s and '90s, who is also in that 1992 Fleer set if you still have it out. Danny Tartabull was Derek Jeter's teammate during th 1995 rookie season, and I can definitely recommend the Jeter documentary "The Captain" on ESPN. I'm not entirely caught up, but I'd imagine you can see the younger Tartabull in some of that footage.

1993 Rockies Team Stadium Club #8 Roberto Mejía

My baseball fandom began in earnest in 1993. Based on that, anyone in this community can probably guess I like the early 1990s influx of gold foil that overtook the hobby. That includes this Team Stadium Club card, a set that was a very early acquisition in my collection. It's from the same team set I completed a while ago with help from the blog community.

As stated on the card back, Roberto Mejía hadn't yet made his Major League debut. That would come a little later in 1993, specifically on July 15th while visiting the Cubbies. That is foreshadowed by what I think is a "WGN Sports" banner in the background, the longtime TV home of the Cubs.

1981 Fleer #498 Broderick Perkins (AU)

Our final two cards are graced by on-card autographs. They're not certified or anything, but will still be good additions to a special page I have in one of my first binders.

I must admit that I've never heard of Broderick Perkins. He played in the late '70s and early '80s for the Padres and Indians, but I can't recall crossing paths with one of his cards in my collecting career. Nevertheless, both Fleer and Donruss included him in their 1981 sets following the dissolution of the Topps monopoly. Which, of course, we now have again.

1994 Leaf #172 Gerónimo Peña (AU)

Gerónimo Peña, on the other hand, I do remember. As pictured, he was a member of the Cardinals for nearly his entire career, and he was on the roster during my first visit to Coors Field on August 25th, 1995. I just ran across some family photos from that trip during this tremendous photo organization project I spent most of July on, and while Peña didn't appear in any of those pictures, I did find some distant snaps my dad took of Galarraga, Bichette, and lots of other Blake Street Bomber-era Rockies, along with Ozzie Smith's scoreboard graphic.

I remember Peña's 1994 Topps card, where on the back they mentioned a series of freak injuries he suffered. He once tripped over his glove in spring training and broke his collarbone. Things like that.

He's healthy enough to be dancing down the third base line on his 1994 Leaf card, another strong candidate in the 1990s gold foil festival. The busy card back contains another action photo, a couple lines of statistics, a tiny rainbow foil Cardinals logo, a ticket stub design element that puts us in the Field Box at Busch Stadium, and a wide shot of said stadium with the Gateway Arch in the background. And the card number.

More is more with 1990s card backs.

Thanks very much to Jay for thinking of me!


  1. Sounds like folks are trying to entice you to post more often :)

    1. Jon, I'd really like to. Only so many hours in the day though. I will still make it a priority.

  2. Jay hooked it up with some pretty cool stuff. I don't remember seeing a 1981 Fleer card signed, but I really like the look of it.