Monday, January 23, 2012

1967 saint louis cardinals

this post covers the 1967 saint louis cardinals and cards number 18 to 24 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
we see seven players for the first time, and no memorable  moment card for the second time.  we also get the first repeat franchise with the first repeat players.  let's break it down.

what team is this: 1967 saint louis cardinals

why this team?: they won 100 games (101, actually) for the first time since 1944.  they were also the world champions for the second time in four years, beating the red sox (another 'timeless team') in a 7-game fall classic.

which players are featured: bob gibson, julian javier, lou brock, orlando cepeda, ray washburn, steve carlton, tim mccarver.  gibson, brock, washburn, and mccarver were previously featured with the 1964 cardinals.

why these players?: these guys were pretty much the backbone of the 1967 cardinals.  gibson, carlton and washburn combined to win 37 games.  cepeda and mccarver finished 1-2 in the league mvp voting, while brock and javier were 7th and 9th, respectively.

bob gibson made only 24 starts in the regular season, finishing 13-7 with a 2.98 era.  in the world series, however, he made 3 starts and won all 3 by throwing a complete game each time.  he was named the world series mvp for his efforts, the second time he received that award.

julian javier played in 140 games in 1967, hitting .281 with a career high 14 home runs.  in the world series, he hit .360 with a home run and 4 rbi.  his home run came in game 7 and sealed the cardinals' victory, increasing their lead from 4-1 to 7-1.

lou brock led the national league with 113 runs scored in 1967.  he also led the league with 52 stolen bases.  in the world series, he scored 8 times and stole 7 bases without getting caught, while hitting .414.

orlando cepeda had joined the cardinals during the 1966 season.  in 1967, he hit .325 and led the league with 111 rbi, earning the league's mvp award.  in the postseason, cepeda struggled and hit just .103 with a single rbi.

ray washburn went 10-7 with a 3.53 era in the regular season.  he made 27 starts but was relegated to the bullpen for the postseason.  he made 2 appearances and pitched 2.1 scoreless innings allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out 2.

steve carlton spent his first full season in the majors in 1967.  he appeared in 30 games, starting 28 of them.  he was 14-9 with 11 complete games, 2 shutouts and a save.  in his first postseason start, and only start of the 1967 series, the future hall of famer took the loss, although he did not allow an earned run.

before tim mccarver was steve carlton's personal catcher and alleged color commentator, he put up some good numbers, at least for a season or two.  in 1967, he hit .295 with 14 home runs and 69 rbi, both career highs.  he made the all-star team for the second (and final) time of his career, and finished 2nd to teammate orlando cepeda in the league mvp voting.  like cepeda, he struggled in the world series, hitting only .125 in the seven games.

the stadium on the back is...?: 'old' busch stadium, just like the backs of the cards from the 1964 team.  this time, it's appropriate, as the cardinals opened the stadium in 1966.

did upper deck get it right?: i think the players make sense.  the only regulars missing from this group are roger maris, curt flood, mike shannon and dal maxvill.  maris and flood died in 1985 and 1997, respectively, and shannon and maxvill were the 'weakest' offensive starters on the team.  as for the pitchers, perhaps dick hughes, nelson briles, or joe hoerner would have made sense.  hoerner died in 1996, but both hughes and briles were alive in 2004.  hughes won 16 games for the cardinals in 1967 and made 2 starts in the world series, while briles won 14 games splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen.  he also made 2 appearances in the world series, throwing a complete game to win game 3 and pitching in relief in game 6.

we know the stadium matches the time frame, and i really don't take any issue with most of the photos used for the fronts of the cards.  gibson looks a little older than one might expect for 1967, and brock maybe looks a bit younger, but there's not enough there for me to say for sure.  on the other hand, javier's photo is from between 1960 and 1963, as that is the timeframe during which the cardinals wore the navy hats with their home whites.  same goes for washburn's photo. 

is this team timeless?: yes, i think so.  the cardinals were nearing 'dynasty' status in the national league around this time, although perhaps this team is celebrated more often than most because of who they beat in the world series. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

1967 boston red sox

this post covers the 1967 boston red sox and cards number 13 to 17 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
for the first time, upper deck goes to five players to represent a team.  and the 1965 twins are still the only team without a 'memorable moment'. 

let's break it down.

what team is this: 1967 boston red sox

why this team?:  the red sox went 92-70 in 1967 to win the american league pennant by one game over the twins and tigers.  in their first fall classic appearance since 1946, the red sox took the cardinals to 7 games before faltering and losing the series.

which players are featured:  carl yastrzemski, jim lonborg, george scott, sparky lyle, rico petrocelli

why these players?:  well, we have the american league mvp who also won the triple crown and a gold glove, the american league cy young award winner, another gold glover and the starting shortstop for the american league all-star team.  1967 rookie reliever sparky lyle also makes the cut, probably because he is 'checklist friendly'.

carl yastrzemski was, at 27, the oldest regular on the team.  he was named the starting left fielder for the american league in the all-star game, won the gold glove, and earned the mvp award thanks to his triple crown numbers - 44/121/.326.  then, in the world series, yaz hit .400 with 3 homers and 5 rbi.  notice how upper deck declared him the last man to win the triple crown on his memorable moments card.  maybe this year matt kemp will make that claim incorrect.

jim lonborg, the pride of santa maria, won 22 games for the red sox in 1967.  he was voted the cy young award winner for the american league as he led the league in wins, strikeouts (246) and games started 39.  his 3.16 era, however, was over a full run greater than league leader joe horlen.  otherwise, the red sox would have boasted a pitching triple crown winner as well.  in the world series, lonborg was spectacular in his first two starts.  he threw a 1-hit shutout to even the series in game 2, and then tossed a 3-hitter in game 5, allowing just a solo home run to roger maris in the 9th inning.  in game 7, however, lonborg was pitching on 2 days rest and gave up 7 runs as the cardinals dashed the hopes of red sox nation.

george scott won a gold glove at first base in 1967 while hitting over .300 as a 23-year old.  he finished 10th in the league mvp voting, but hit just .231 in the world series with a double and a triple to his credit.

sparky lyle made his big league debut on july 4, 1967.  he wound up appearing in 27 games for the bosox on their run to the pennant, going 1-2 with 5 saves while posting an era of 2.28.  of course, we know that he made all of those appearances in relief as he never made any starts in his career.  lyle did not appear in the fall classic as the red sox went with 18-year old ken brett as their lefty reliever instead.

rico petrocelli was named the starting shortstop for the american league in the all-star game in 1967.  according to baseball reference, petrocelli had 13 go-ahead hits in 1967, so maybe the text on the back of his card is not just lip service.  petrocelli hit only .200 in the world series, but 3 of his 4 hits were for extra bases, including 2 home runs.

the stadium on the back is...?:  fenway park, of course.  that's where the red sox have played since 1912.

did upper deck get it right?: knowing that the set also includes the world champion cardinals (they'll be next up on the blog) i won't complain about the team selection.  they also got the stadium right, but it looks to be a photo from 2003 or so.  the monster seats are in place above the green monster in left, and those weren't installed until that year.

as far as the players go, yaz is a no-doubter, although upper deck used a photo from much later in the hall-of-famer's career.  i take no issue with the lonborg selection, and george scott and petrocelli make sense, too.  it seems like lyle is a stretch for the sake of the team, but for the sake of the set checklist he may be appropriate as he was a big part of the yankees' 1977 team which is featured later on.

i would suggest that instead of lyle, maybe lee stange or reggie smith would have been better surviving representatives of the 1967 red sox.  at least we didn't get stuck with ken harrelson.

the photos for lonborg, lyle and petrocelli seem to be of the period, but scott's photo, however, shows him with a uniform from the 1969-1971 era. those were the years scott played in boston when the navy 'boston' lettering was outlined in red.

is this team timeless?: i suppose so.  it was the first red sox team to get back to the world series since ted williams' time in boston, and they battled back from a 3-1 deficit to force a 7th game.  throw in the numbers that yaz and lonborg put up in '67 and you've got a keeper.

Monday, January 9, 2012

1966 baltimore orioles

this post covers the 1966 baltimore orioles and cards number 9 to 12 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
so far, only the 1965 twins have been without a 'memorable moment.'

let's break it down.

what team is this: 1966 baltimore orioles

why this team?: the orioles won 97 games in 1966, claimed the american league pennant and then swept the dodgers in the world series.  that's why.

which players are featured: boog powell, brooks robinson, frank robinson, jim palmer

why these players?: powell and the robinson 'brothers' were the offensive leaders on the team, and they accounted for half of baltimore's hits and rbi in the world series, as well as just over half of the runs scored and 75% of the home runs hit in those 4 games.  palmer was one of two aces on the staff, with the other being dave mcnally, who unfortunately passed away in 2002.

powell hit .357 in the series to lead the orioles.  during the regular season, he hit .287 with 34 homers and 109 rbi.  he finished 3rd to teammates brooks and frank robinson in the league mvp voting.

brooks robinson hit only .214 in the series with a solo home run.  that came after he hit .269 with 23 homers and 100 rbi in the regular season.  the 1964 league mvp finished 2nd to teammate frank robinson in the 1966 mvp voting, marking the third straight year he had finished in the top 3.  speaking of streaks, brooks picked up his 7th consecutive gold glove award in 1966, and also made his 7th straight appearance on the al all-star squad.  he was named the mvp of the midsummer classic in 1966, and also picked up the lou gehrig memorial award that year.

all frank robinson did in 1966 was win the triple crown with a line of 49/122/.316.  he also led the league with an ops of 1.047, 122 runs scored, and a war of 8.3.  it was his first season in baltimore to boot.  in the series, frobby hit .286 with 2 homers and 3 rbi and was named the mvp of the series.  that award was added to his mvp award, the al babe ruth award, and the major league player of the year award that robinson received thanks to his monster season.

jim palmer was all of 20 years old in 1966 when he threw one of the orioles 3 shutouts in the world series.  he allowed 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 6 in game 2, which also turned out to be the last game of sandy koufax's career.  palmer also led the orioles' staff during the regular season with 15 wins.  he made 30 starts and had an era of 3.46.

 the stadium on the back is...?: memorial stadium, which the orioles used from the time they rolled into town in 1954 through 1991, the year before camden yards opened.  the colts also played there until they rolled out of town in 1983.  the end zones were beyond center field and behind home plate.

did upper deck get it right?: i think they got the players right.  that, the stadium, and the photo they used for boog may be about it.  they got the bird logo wrong, for starters.  you can compare the bird on the backs to the one on jim palmer's hat, or you could click the link in the last sentence to see that the logo upper deck is using is the cartoon oriole that was in service from 1975-1988. 

if we agree that boog's photo is legit, then when we see him in 1970 we will agree that the photo used is not legit, since they look like they were taken at the same time.  brooks robinson's photo seems ok, except that i am pretty sure merv rettenmund's 1969 (and 1970) images were taken by the same photographer, and merv didn't suit up for the o's until 1968.  plus, doesn't that look like former commissioner bowie kuhn leaning forward right behind brooks' arse?  kuhn wasn't the commish until the 1969 season.  frobby's photo is him holding his mvp award, so it would have come from 1967 unless the award was announced prior to the world series back then.  finally, jim palmer's photo looks like it comes from the latter years of that particular bird logo, maybe 1973 or 1974 given the polyester pullover jersey.

is this team timeless?:  there is no doubt this team belongs in the set.  the 1966 orioles were the first team in franchise history to win the world series, and the first since the 1944 browns to even make it to the fall classic.  plus, they swept the dodgers in what would be sandy koufax's final season.

Friday, January 6, 2012

1965 minnesota twins

this post covers the 1965 minnesota twins and cards numbered 5 to 8 in the set. here are the fronts:

and backs:
at least the text on each of the backs actually pertains to the 1965 season.  that's a first for this set.

what team is this: 1965 minnesota twins

why this team?:  the twins won 102 games in their fifth season in minnesota and represented the american league in the world series.  they took the dodgers to 7 games, but lost to sandy koufax.

which players are featured:  harmon killebrew, jim kaat, jim perry, mudcat grant

why these players?:  kaat, perry, and grant were the aces of the staff for the twins in 1965, and killebrew was, well, the killer. 

in 1965, harmon killebrew hit fewer than 45 home runs for the first time since 1960, when he was playing for the washington senators.  his 25 homers still led the team, and he scored 78 runs while driving in 75 others in only 113 games.  in the world series, killer hit .286 with a homer and two rbi.

jim kaat was 18-11 with 2 'saves' for the al champs.  his era was 2.83, and his 42 starts led the team.  he pitched 7 complete games and 2 shutouts.  he made 3 starts in the world series, finishing 1-2 with a 3.77 era.  he also won (of course) a gold glove - number 4 of 16 straight - and hit .247 with a home run during the regular season. 

jim perry split the 1965 season between the bullpen and the starting rotation.  he finished 12-7 with a 2.63 era in 36 games, 19 of which were starts.  he had 4 complete games and 2 shutouts for good measure.  perry, who would become the ace of the staff on the twins' al west champion teams of 1969 and 1970, made only 2 appearances in the 1965 series, pitching 4 innings in relief and allowing 2 runs.

had there been a cy young award for both leagues in 1965 (or if there were no sandy koufax), mudcat grant may well have won it.  he finished 7th in the league mvp voting, behind white sox reliever eddie fisher, but the twins' mvp vote was split between versalles, oliva and earl battey who all finished in the top 10.  i would imagine fisher and orioles' reliever stu miller (he was 8th in the mvp vote) would have split the reliever vote and grant would have won.  anyway, he was 21-7 with a 3.30 era and 1.16 whip.  he started 39 games and pitched 270 innings, completing 14 games and throwing 6 shutouts.

the stadium on the back is...?:  the hubert h. humphrey metrodome.  this is a gross oversight by the folks at upper deck.  the twins played in metropolitan stadium (now the site of the mall of america) from 1961 through 1981 before moving into the metrodome in 1982.  met stadium was torn down in 1985, although there are markers within the nickelodeon universe in the center of the mall at the location of home plate and of harmon killebrew's 520-foot home run.

did upper deck get it right?: well, we know they blew it with the stadium, but i think they did ok with the player selection.  although it was a down year for killebrew, he did finish 8th in the league in home runs despite playing in only 113 games.  still, the twins had at least one other offensive player who deserved consideration for the set.  tony oliva, who is still around and not opposed to signing autographs, led the league in hits with 185 and batting average at .321, finishing second to teammate zoilo versalles in the mvp vote.  he also finished in the tops 5 in war at 6.0, just ahead of teammates jimmie hall and killebrew.  speaking of hall, he would have been a nice inclusion in the set, but i am biased in that regard. unfortunately, versalles died in 1995, otherwise he would have been a shoo-in for the set. 

the trio of pitchers upper deck chose were spot on, although a case could be made for al worthington, the team's closer.  he was 10-7 in 62 games of relief with 21 'saves' and a 2.13 era.

as for the photos, the killebrew is certainly from the 1970's, thanks to the baby blues and the elastic waist pants.  i have no qualms with the kaat or grant photos, but the perry looks like it may be from later in the decade, due to the amount of gray hair visible on what should have been a 29-year old.  but, then again, his brother gaylord was only 36 when he looked 60 on his 1976 topps card.

is this team timeless?: as far as twins teams go, yes.  and, it's hard to find fault with a team that won 102 games and boasted a slugger who retired at number 5 on the all-time home run list.  i'll give upper deck credit for going with a small market team in this set, but the 1965 dodgers would have been a more obvious choice as they were the world champions, and it would have been nice to see sandy koufax, claude osteen, jim lefebvre, maury wills and maybe wes parker or ron fairly in the set.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

1964 saint louis cardinals

this post covers cards number 1 to 4 in the set, featuring the 1964 saint louis cardinals.  here are the fronts:
and backs:
and so we have the three basic cards of the set in the first three cards we see - a color image, a memorable moments card, and a black and white image.  and then there is tim mccarver.

let's break it down.

what team is this?:  1964 saint louis cardinals

why this team?:  the 1964 cardinals were world champions in 1964, beating the yankees in 7 games.  they also won 93 games for the second year in a row, and won the national league pennant for the first time since 1946.

which players are featured?: bob gibson, lou brock, ray washburn, tim mccarver

why these players?:  bob gibson was the ace of the staff and led the team in war, a stat nowhere in sight back in 1964.  gibson's 'wins above replacement' player was 6.2 and his traditional stat were good, too. he was 19-12 in 40 games pitched (36 starts) with 17 complete games and 2 shutouts.  he even had a 'save' which was not an official stat back then. he threw 287 innings and had 245 strikeouts, good for second in the league. plus, he was the mvp of the world series.

lou brock was acquired by the cardinals in june of 1964 from the cubs.  he went on to hit .348 in 103 games with saint louis, and finished second overall in the league with 43 steals.  he also had some world series heroics, hitting a home run in game 7 off of the yankees' al downing to give saint louis a 4-0 lead in a game they eventually won 7-5.  he hit .300 in the series, and of course went on to have a hall of fame career with the cardinals.

ray washburn appeared in only 15 games for the cardinals in 1964, posting a record of 3-4 with 2 saves and a 4.05 era.  he did not appear in the world series, and as the back of his card suggests, he was a much bigger factor on the redbirds' 1968 world series team.

tim mccarver was just 22 in 1968, but guided the pitching staff while hitting .288.  he appeared in 143 games and hit 9 home runs.  he allowed 16 passed balls and threw out less than 30% of the runners who tried to steal against him.  but, while his regular season numbers were better during the cardinals' 1967 world championship season, the 1964 world series is where mccarver came through the most.  he hit .478 (11 for 23) with 5 walks and just one strikeout in the series.  he had a double, triple, home run, sacrifice fly, and even a stolen base over the course of the seven games.  his 3-run blast in the 10th inning of game 5 was the difference as the cardinals took a 3-2 lead in the series. 

the stadium on the back is...?: 'old' busch stadium.  i saw a couple of games there in 1998, after it had been converted from its multi-purpose state of the 70's and 80's.  i dug it.  especially the retired numbers in the outfield and the homage to the saint louis arch via the 'crown of arches' all around the exterior of the stadium.  the problem is, the 1964 cardinals played in sportsman's park, which was also called busch stadium.  the busch stadium on the back of these cards opened in 1966.

did upper deck get it right?: well, we know that the stadium is wrong.  and ray washburn seems out of place.  perhaps bill white or curt simmons would have been better representatives of the 1964 team than washburn.  otherwise, the players chosen make sense, although the photo used for gibson is from circa 1974, based on the uniform and the artificial turf.  and, the image used on brock's card (although i love that it shows a rundown - that's why it's in the header!) is from a game against the mets, and doesn't really connect with the subject matter of the card.

is this team timeless?:  it's hard to argue with a world championship team, especially one that beat the yankees.  i think upper deck chose wisely with this team.

Monday, January 2, 2012

what's this all about, then?

and away we go.  what exactly is 'timeless teams', you might be wondering.  well, in 2004, upper deck put out a 300 card set celebrating several allegedly memorable baseball teams from seasons past.  this blog will address the checklist, the teams, and, of course, the cards themselves.

first, the basics.

when compiling the checklist, upper deck was limited to living players who were willing to sign cards, thanks to their ambitious plan to have signed versions of each of the 300 cards in the set.  that means that the only deceased people featured in the release were found in the combo cuts insert set and some of the relics.  i'll try to keep this in mind when reviewing the players featured for each team.

the base set consists of the 'traditional' player card front, in either color
or black and white
with a photo of the team's stadium and a single career stat line on the back. 
there are also a smattering of 'memorable moments' cards throughout the set
that document (what else) memorable moments from the season being feted.
in addition to the 300 card base set, there are several parallel sets.  a bronze set, with each card serial numbered to 50;
and a gold set, with each card serial numbered to 5.
and then there are the autographs. on card autos, at that.
each of the 300 cards in the set has three autograph parallels - 'common', gold, and platinum.  i am not sure what number most of the 'common' autographs were limited to, but there are documented short prints within the set ranging from 25 to 100 copies, so we know that at least more than 100 were made for the other cards.  the gold autographs are again serial numbered to 5,
and the platinum copies are limited to one of each.  the backs still have the stadium scene, but include upper deck's certification text instead of the stats and other text found on the base cards.  based on some info i have seen online, there were at least a couple of autographed cards that were 'exchange' or 'redemption', but i don't know what they looked like when pulled from a pack.

beyond the base cards and their multiple parallels, there are even more inserts. 

legendary combination signatures - 5 cards, serial numbered to 10 each, featuring 5-player, non-teammate combinations.  with a checklist that includes hall of famers and world series heroes, i sadly do not own any of these cards.

legendary combination cuts - 5 cards, serial numbered to 1 copy each, featuring deceased players and presidents.  the combinations on these cards include mickey mantle/joe dimaggio, jfk/thomas jefferson, jackie robinson/abraham lincon, fdr/ted williams, and george washington/babe ruth.  i have no images to share with you.

legendary signatures dual - 45 cards, limited from 25 to 150 copies, with two teammates' autographs featured on each card.  i do have one of these to show off
legendary signatures triple - 33 cards, ranging in runs from 25 to 75 copies, with three teammates' autographs featured on each card. i don't have any of these.

and don't forget about the relic cards.  each card features six teammates from selected teams on a fold-out card.  there are 9 different cards produced, each with 5 variations.  the teams featured are the orioles, red sox, reds, dodgers, brewers, mets, yankees, a's, and cardinals.  the variations, each with a different logo burned into the bat pieces, include:

team terrific game used timeless teams brand logo - 10 to 41 serial numbered copies

team terrific game used hat logo - 15 to 82 serial numbered copies

team terrific game used league logo - each limited to 15 copies, except for the yankees card which had only 5 copies made

team terrific game used stat version - each limited to 1 or 5 copies, with the yankees card being the only one with just a single copy.

team terrific game used team logo - ranging from 30 to 100 copies of each.  i have a couple of the dodgers' version of this card
although it is numbered to 85.  the 'official' upper deck checklist says it had a print run of 42.  i guess they found some more wood to use.

i think i will give each insert and parallel set its own post after we get through the base cards.
the cards were sold in packs which included 5 cards. each box consisted of 18 packs, with two autographed cards per box, on average.  the fold-out relic cards were inserted one every 4 cases (20 boxes per case), and the multi-player autos and combo cut autos were inserted at a rate of one per case.

[thanks to the 2009 standard catalog of baseball cards, upper deck, and dave and adam's for providing some of the info used in this post.]

i'll start with the first team featured in the set tomorrow, and then will likely be posting two teams each week.  as we go along, please let me know your thoughts about the set, the cards, the players - anything.  it's appreciated.