I’ve mentioned previously that I am attempting to build a complete set of 1977 Topps baseball cards. I’m looking to do it through purchasing small lots of cards on eBay (just purchased 55 more for $3.50). I’m obsessed with the ’77 Topps set out of nostalgia and if I’m honest with myself, I’m probably regressing back to my 7 year old self as an escape from reality.
At first, there was a lot of laughing at the cards; strange photo angles, airbrushed hats, horrific uniforms, embarrassing poses and questionable athleticism. It is also fun finding the cards I distinctly remember from my childhood; players I loved (George Brett, Pete Rose) or even uniforms I thought were the coolest (Padres, Expos).
But what I’m most intrigued by now are the fringe players. Those who only had a small cup of coffee in the bigs and then were never heard from again. Their cards captured a moment in time when they realized their dream, when they “made it”. Looking at these cards now, I swear you can see it in their collective faces. Add in the fact that it is so easy to research what they have done since their careers ended, and you have the recipe for fascinating human interest stories.
Here are three of those stories:
- Only 36 hits in 81 career games
- 12 errors in those 36 games
- Debuted in ’75 and had 6 hits in a two game span. This article from ’75 sums up the excitement of getting to the MLB and just appreciating the opportunity.
- Missed the ’71 season due to military service
- Out of the majors by ’78
- While I appreciate any type of humor, I find this type of negative blog post to be unnecessary. Dude made it to the majors, that is like winning the lottery.
- I found his Facebook profile and it seems too understated. Photo should scream, I played in the frickin MLB. I’m still contemplating sending him a friend request and asking for an interview.
- 7 career wins over 7 MLB seasons
- Career 5.12 ERA
- 2nd round draft pick in ’74
- That grin tells me he appreciated being able to put on that killer Sox hat.
- In 2008, he invented the Strike Out Strippz, a pitching glove that helps pitchers evaluate their pitching motion after each simulated pitch. A great sales pitch here: “Strike Out Strippz Pitching Glove will do for pitchers what the batting tee did for hitters.”
- Here’s an example of Roger Clemens pimping it.
- After digging around some more, my best guess is that he sold it as it is promoted current day through this site without his name prominently attached.
- I located his LinkedIn profile as well. I am fascinated how typical it looks until you scroll down his page and see “Former Major League Pitcher”. What? Put that shit up top dude, you are one in a million with that.
- I can’t shake this one. Shame on me for not remembering him and more importantly, not knowing his tragic story. More on that in a bit.
- A lefty middle reliever who made 655 career appearances in the MLB.
- Was the winner of game 3 of the ’73 World Series against my beloved Mets.
- He has the distinction of being the last pitcher to face Willie Mays.
- Participated in 3 World Series with the A’s and was part of the 1978 Yankees World Series team.
- He died in 2006, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Take a look at this fascinating article from ’97 that talks about the disease in great detail.
- He started showing signs of early onset Alzheimer’s in his late 40’s. It has been determined that his children have a 50/50 chance of getting Alzheimer’s as well.
- Research shows that he was a descendant of one of a few German families that migrated to Russia in the 18th century and were linked to familial Alzheimer’s.