Saturday, April 7, 2012

Twins Card Spotlight: Rich Reese's 1971 Topps #349


For us little baseball card fiends, acquiring the Rich Reese 1971 card in a pack that summer was a clear occasion for going orgasmic. Going that  crazy over a guy who was a 1-2 season flash-in-the-pan* is a clear indication of the state of the baseball card industry in the early '70s.  All I remember are the knock-down, drag-out trade negotiations for this Twins favorite between neighborhood boys, to wit: "You can have 2 of my Charlie Manuals and 1 Leo Cardenas  for your"

*Sorry for that last comment, old-timers...Rich, a heckuva man, but he never did fulfill the early promise that made future all-star Craig Nettles expendable as a Twins prospect. 
Topps had finally been challenged as the industry leader in 1967 by Marvin Miller and the MLB Players Association for increased royalties (see Classic Twins post with legendary Oliva / Killebrew cards). Action shots - AND current stock photos - were finally being updated after the players' mass refusal to have their photographs taken anew. That, plus the black border format, made the '71 set such a hit with card collectors.

Otherwise, Reese had mass popularity with Twins fans, not in small part for ending Oriole pitcher Dave McNally's 1969 winning streak on Aug. 3, 1969 ("Baseball In Minnesota," story link; BBRef game box).
Reese with kids, "The Big A" in Anaheim, CA
Circa 1969 Coutesy of Padre Steve
For all you cardboard stalkers who value such commodities, the entire '71 set is up for auction today on Ebay for a mere $2,000 starting bid. Walking around money for the wealthy gent!

As our Hall of Fame broadcaster Herb used to say it"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

In The O's Nest: The Baltimore Debut of Carew In 1967 Season Opener

[Added PDF, Sat., Sept. 7, 2013]
The Minnesota Twins began a new Twins era in the home of the 1966 World Series winning Baltimore Orioles, at Memorial Stadium on April 11, 1967 (see game description at BBRef. link, and PDF of Winona Daily News, bottom of post). Until this year, it has been the only other time the season has begun in Baltimore in the 52 seasons of Twins baseball.

Image result for rod carew 1968 topps

It was still two months before the Beatles released their Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP. It was that long, too, before the Six Day's War between Israel and it's Middle East neighbors commenced. Though smaller in the lens of world focus, it was a significant day in Twins and baseball history as it was the very first time Rod Carew's name appeared in a box score. The 21 year-old hadn't even played a game above A ball (minors stats)!

Carew would hit safely for singles in two of his at bats, but that and a noteworthy performance by Tony Oliva (doubled home two runs) were negated by the clutch hitting of Brooks Robinson, and characteristic, fine pitching by Oriole bullpen members Moe Drabowsky and Stu Miller. Drabowsky was picking up right where he left off in his legendary door-slamming in the faces or the L.A. Dodgers in the World Series (You Tube) the previous October.

It was a disappointing lid-lifter. Jim Kaat, the AL's best pitcher of 1966, was cuffed around in the very first inning, as the first four batters reached base. Brooks Robinson put the cherry on the cake with his two-run dinger, thereby announcing the Birds were actually serious about defending their shiny, new Championship trophy. That came immediately after Cesar Tovar had doubled to start the first. Alas, he was erased when he strayed too far off the bag on Rich Rollins' flyout to left, doubled off by Curt Blefary's on-the-money peg to shorstop Aparcio. Instant momentum shift. Otherwise, the game was notable for the appearance of five future Hall Of Fame players, including Killebrew, Carew, the Robinsons Brooks and Frank, and little Luis Aparicio. It was a 6-3 drubbing, and served notice the O's would be a force for years to come.

1967 photo,"The Sporting News" - At Metropolitan Stadium

This Max Nichols article in TSN gives some insight into the rookie Carew:

More commentatry on Rod as a Twins "phenom" can be found in an early Classic Twins post.

There was also this telling piece tucked into that page - a sign of a turbulent era:

As our old friend Herb Carneal ended his broadcasts:

Winona Daily News PDF  (link to create larger print)