Saturday, April 30, 2016

1976 ASG +40: Luis Tiant 1976 Topps #130

The Yankees are at Fenway for a weekend Series which means that they are once again on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball....even if Curt Schilling won't be part of the festivities.

We tie into the evening by featuring Red Sox alum Luis Tiant as part of our 1976 All-Star Game 40th Anniversary coverage.

1976 Topps #130 Luis Tiant 

1976 was the 3rd and final All-Star game for Luis Tiant. He entered the game in the fifth inning and immediately gave up a Triple to Pete Rose. However El Tiante was able to get out of the inning unscathed. Steve Garvey hit a sharp grounder to third which may have gotten down the line had George Brett not been holding Rose on the bag. Rose's Reds Teammates Joe Morgan and George Foster than followed with a Pop Out and Ground Out. Tiant set down the NL in order in the sixth separating pop out of Phillies Greg Luzinski and Bob Boone with a strikeout of Astros Outfielder Cesar Cedeno.

Luis Tiant's other All-Star games were in 1968 and 1974 he took the loss in both games.

 1976 All-Star Game Luis Tiant vs Cesar Cedeno

We scanned the video of the 1976 ASG to check out Tiant's distinct delivery. Above he is facing Cesar Cedeno, even in this blurry image you can tell that Tiant has his back to the plate.  The catcher in the shot is Tiant's Red Sox teammate Carlton Fisk.

Tiant spent all but two months of his career in the AL, consequently the 76 All-Star Game is the only tie he pitched at the Vet. Yes in those pre-interleague days Luis Tiant pitched 19 seasons and 573 games but the only way you got to see him inside the Philadelphia city limits was to got to the 1976 All-Star game. Similarly his only appearance in the Astrodome was the 1968 All-Star Game.
Phungo Luis Tiant Index
I have created Indices for many Hall of Fame players, to these I have been adding a few for noteworthy non-hallers. Tiant is now part of this group.
1975 Topps #430 (This is a great card)

Sources and Links
1976 ASG 40th Anniversary Index 
YouTube - 1976 ASG
Baseball Almanac

1976 ASG +40: Bob Lemon 1956 Topps #255

The Phillies are hosting their first Home Inter-League Series of 2016 this weekend. The rare meeting with the Indians gives us the opportunity to discuss Hall of Famer Bob Lemon as part of our 1976 All-Star Game Anniversary coverage.

1956 Topps #255 Bob Lemon

The 1976 inductees for the Hall of Fame were Pitchers Bob Lemon and the Phillies own Robin Roberts.

As part of the All-Star game festivities the two were made honorary captains for the squads. Lemon who spent his entire career with the Indians was affiliated with the AL while Roberts repped the NL.

Bob Lemon was a borderline Hall of Famer who had been on the Ballot over a dozen times prior to being elected in 1976. His resume is by a World Championship with the 1948 Indians. Lemon recorded 2 wins in the series including the game six clincher.  The seven time All-Star garnered AL Pitcher of the Year honors from the Sporting News three times, He won 20 games seven times and lead the AL three times. Lemon was a durable starter leading the league in complete games five times, innings four times and Strikeouts and Shutouts once each. 

Lemon spent three years during the early part of his career in the Navy. The time lost was likely a significant consideration for Hall of Fame voters. 

1956 Topps #255 Bob Lemon (b-side)

I want to start with the last cartoon. I like how they point out Bob Lemon moved from the infield to pitching. The switch was made following Lemon's return from the service. Note that the cartoon has the hitter batting left-handed and the pitcher throwing righty, which matches the description of Mr Lemon.

Now I want to take a look at the middle panel. In the politically correct 21st century I am not sure we would see this cartoon on the back of a baseball card.

Getty Got It
According to the Getty Images archive the posed action shot was taken on September 28 1954, the day prior to game one of the World Series. However, I doubt the accuracy of that info as Lemon is wearing Home White on the card and in the photo and game 1 of the '54 series was played at the Polo Grounds.

However, if the photo is from prior to 1954 Game 1 it is connected to this card in the 1959 Topps Set. Yes that is correct, that is the game in which Willie Mays made "the Catch" at the Polo Grounds.

The Bob Lemon Action Shot is from the Otto Bettmann Collection.

Bob Lemon HoF Index
1978 Topps #574 (As Player/As Manager)

Sources and Links
1976 ASG 40th Anniversary Index
YouTube - 1976 All-Star Game
SABR Bio Jon Barnes
baseball almanac
Getty Images 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Indians @ Phillies 15th overall picks Chase Utley and Tyler Naquin

Found an interesting card for this weekends Indians Phillies Series. 

2012 Bowman Draft Top Picks #TP-UN Chase Utley Tyler Naquin 

Chase Utley was once paired with the Indians Rookie Center Fielder, Tyler Naquin in a Bowman Draft Insert set. The connection between the two players was their draft position, #15. Utley was drafted in 2000 Naquin, 2012.

2012 Bowman Draft Top Picks #TP-UN Chase Utley Tyler Naquin (b-side)

The flip of the card finds a further similarity between the two players drafted, they were both previously picked out of High School. The card doesn't note that Utley's was originally drafted in the second round and Naquin remained available until the 33rd.

WAR Stories - 15th Overall Pick
If Tyler Naquin has the career that Chase Utley has had I am sure the Indians will be very happy.

Truth is if Naquin's career ended today, the Tribe would not be happy but they would have done better than half of the teams that have picked 15 overall. Of the 51 players that have been picked #15 just under half (24) have made the majors. Tyler Naquin is less than a month into his Major League career and already ranks among the top 20 in games played among #15 picks. While Naquin is among the 47% who made the majors he does not one of the 15 (29%) who have had a positive impact as measured by WAR. The rookie is at -0.2 through his first 17 games.

The average WAR for the 24 players that reached the majors is is +11.4. Nine of the 51 picks (18%) have had a career WAR of +10.0 or above - basically the equivalent of two All-Star season.   

Sixteen (31%) of players have played in 162 games, the equivalent of one major league season, 18 (36%) if you count the two pitchers between 30 and 161 games.  

Chase Utley's career 62.8 WAR paces all #15 picks with the only Hall of Famer Jim Rice second at 47.4. Other notables include Chris Carpenter (+34.5), Richie Hebiner (+32.9), Current Utley Teammate Scott Kazmir (+22.6 - active), Stephen Drew (+16.1 - active), Devin Mesoraco (+4.0 - acrtive), Phillies Reliever Ethan Martin (-0.5) and Braves Prospect Sean Necomb (2015 BA Prospect #70)

Chase Utley is the Phillies only #15 overall selection, the Indians have picked there 3 times: Naquin, 1969 - Alvin McGraw (peaked at AAA including a stint in the Phillies Org), and 2009 Alex White (-0.5 WAR was active in 2015)

Rice is the Home Run Leader among the group with 382, followed by Utley (236) and Hebner (203). Carpenter leads the Pitchers with 144 wins with Scott Kazmir at 99 victories. Swingman Scott Garrelts is 3rd in Ws with 69 and is the saves leader with 48.

Royce Clayton (1988, +19.5 WAR) edged out Jim Rice for Games Played among the selections (2108 - 2089), Chase Utley is well back just under 1600 games as of Press time.

Sources and Links 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Inspired by Night Owl Cards Prince Memorial last week we have a few Phillies Purple Cards.

1975 Topps # 574 Tony Taylor

In deference to NOC we open with a 1975T card that has a Purple top. The Phillies had purple cards in Flagship even in years when it was not one of the base colors.

Several times over the years Purple has served as a secondary color for Phillies cards. The 1990T Bob Dernier is a favorite - Green and Purple are particularly good complimentary colors.

Purple Chrome

Purple Parallels have shown up the last couple of years commonly found in Toys R Us sets, but I think the 2013 Heritage may have been regular retail.

Fleer stole the 1954T design for this set. Lots of Purple on the Ron Gant card.

Continuing with Fleer with a minimalist retro inspired design from 2006. Kind of like the look of this set.

The Purple continues through to the b-side.

 HoF Mike Schmidt go the Purple Honors on his 1988 Score card.

Once again the Purple continues through to the back, although more subtle then on the Rollins 06 Fleer Tradition Card.

Finally from 1982T, in addition to the titles the signature hockey sticks are also in Princely Purple.

Finally we close with Prince Himself

Purple Rain 45 RPM on Purple Vinyl

And the packaging...

I supposed colored vinyl is the Parallel of Records.

Sources and Links
Prince Memorial / Prince R&R HoF Index

Monday, April 25, 2016

Prince 1958-2016

In many ways I was more affected by the news of Prince's death than that of David Bowie. The biggest reason is timing.

Bowie was an established star, mega star even, before I got into music. Prince's career arc began to rise just as I was getting into music.
I probably have more Bowie Albums in the Phungo Collection, but they are more like historical documents to me. I played the grooves out of 1999 and Purple Rain. 

2004 08 23 Prince at the Wachovia Center Philadelphia

Once Prince became a star my interest waned, but I was very excited to see him on the Musicology tour at  the Wachovia Center.

I don't recall a lot about the show. and it is weird it feels like a recent show despite the fact that 2004 is over a decade ago. I suppose it is because at the time I was significantly closer to 40 than 30 and the process of giving into being a grown up was happening very quickly. Seeing Prince in 2004 is firmly ensconsed in the file of concerts I saw as an adult - no confusing it with seeing GnR, The Dead Milkment or Nine Inch Nails who all appeared at the latter edges of my misspent youth. 

A glance at the set list form the show refreshed my memory a bit.

The Wachovia Center is a good size arena and Row 2 of the Upper Tier was far away at times. The show was done in the round, Prince was "hidden" inside a box and snuck in below the stage emerging from beneath the center of the raised floor to open the show.

The concertw as broken into three pieces plus an encore. There was a full band for the shows opening and closing sections separated by a Prince solo set. Highlights from the show included "Lets Go Crazy" near the beginning of the show, Prince opening the solo with "Little Red Corvette",  and "7" at the top of the closing set. Prince highlighted the music of several other artists including a couple of Sheila E tunes, a solo version of the Stones "Satisfaction" and a cover of "Knock on Wood". The Three song encore concluded with a memorable "Purple Rain"

Maceo Parker opened the show and also played with Prince's band. A number of songs also prominently featured saxophonist Candy Dulfer

Sources and Links
Purple Cards - Night Owl Cards
Purple Cards - Phungo
VittlesTunes - Index of Music related posts
Candy Dulfer
Maceo Parker

Sunday, April 24, 2016

1976 ASG +40: Ken & Bob Fosch 1977 Topps #632

Hello Houston!

The Astros are once again noteworthy and are getting national recognition on Sunday Night Baseball. To mark that return we turn our 1976 All-Star Game Anniversary coverage to one the Astros reps on the NL Squad.

1977 Topps #632 Big League Brothers Bob and Ken Forsch

In 1976 Ken Fosch made the first of his two all-star appearances. He finished the game setting down the AL in order, finishing with a strike out of Amos Otis.

Ken Fosch had a 16 year career, 11 with the Astros followed by five with the Angels.  A swingman Forsch made the All-Star team as a reliever who would save 19 games for the 1976 Astros.  He pitched to a a cumulative career WAR of 27.1 with his single best WAR season during his first full one in 1971 at age 24, +3.6. 

Phillies fans my remember his only Postseason appearance, the 1980 NLCS.  He pitched during deciding game 5. Forsch entered the game with an Astros 5-4 lead and 2 men on bases. He gave up back to back hits to Del Unser and Manny Trillo which led to three Phillies runs. The Phillies would eventually triumph 8-7 in ten innings.
1977 Topps #632 Big League Brothers Bob and Ken Forsch 

Nice synopsis of the Forsch's little league years. Bob Forsch never made an all-star team But did win a World Series as a member of the 1982 Cardinals.

1977 Topps Big League Brothers
Big League Brothers is barely a subset clocking in at four cards. However two of those four cards were represented in the 76 ASG. In addition to the Forsch siblings there were also the Brett's. George Brett started at 3rd Base for the AL squad. He and his brother Ken occupy the #631 slot in 1977T. 

A career highlight for Bob Fosch features the Phillies. The first of his two no-hitters was versus the Phillies on April 16, 1976, A 5-0 Cardinals victory.

Sources and Links
1976 ASG 40th Anniversary Index
Cardboard Connection
Baseball Card Database
Baseball Almanac

Friday, April 22, 2016

1976 ASG +40: Bob Uecker 1967 Topps

The Phillies make their annual trip to Milwaukee over the weekend which gives us the opportunity to roll out one of my favorite vintage commons.

1967 Topps #326 Bob Uecker

No Bob Uecker did not play in the 1976 All-Star game. By the time the Bicentennial rolled around His career was over by almost a decade and as you may suspect the Career .200 Hitter never did play in an All-Star game.

Bob Uecker did make it to the All-Star game as a part of the broadcast team for ABC Sports. He worked alongside Warner Wolf and Pirates announcer Bob Prince.

Warner Wolf and Bob Uecker on ABC Broadcast of 1976 ASG

For the broadcast Bob Uecker drew the AL Assignment, In his pregame comments he singled out Yankees Catcher Thurman Munson and Rangers Shortstop Toby Harrah as statndouts, However the player the was really looking forward to seeing was Mark Fidrych.

The follow up question from lead broadcaster Warner Wolf was about how Uecker liked to spend his All-Star Break. The reply was pure Self-Depracating Bob Uecker

"Well what I used to do was load my catchers equiment into my car rent a motel room for three days lock myself in and scream my head off because I didn’t make it again. "

I should note that it is not entirely correct that Uecker was never an All-Star....

1967 Topps #326 Bob Uecker (b-side)

According to the second -toon on the back of the card Uecker was an All-Star selection in 1961. There is something in error here, as in 1961 Bob Uecker played for the Louisville Colonels of the Ammerican Association not the NL.

Bleacher Seats
For more on Bob Uecker and this card (his last as an active player) check out the 1967 Topps Baseball Posting.

Sources and Links
1976 All-Star Game Index
1967 Topps Baseball
YouTube - 1976 All-Star Game

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2016 Topps Gypsy Queen Rack Pack Break

Picked up a Rack Pack of Gypsy Queen at the big T this week. The rack went for $10 and included three 6-card packs plus a "bonus" 3-card pack of framers.

Here are the highlights althoug GQ really isn't my thing - pithy comments will be minimal.

2016 Topps Gypsy Queen Gary Sanchez (base & framed)

One of the three framed cards I picked up was Yankees prospect Gary Sanchez, We also picked up the base card which gives us the opportunity to put up the above side/side.

2016 Topps Gypsy Queen #321 Tony Perez (sp)

The bottom 50 cards in the GQ set are short-prints of retired players, mostly Hall of Famers. Thankfully the HOF SPs doen't interfere with building a set including today's stars.  We will hopefully return to this one in our 1976 ASG feature. And there is a Sloppy Topps issue with this card as well. 

2016 Topps Gypsy Queen Andrelton Simmons,  Jayson Heyward, Scott Kazmir, Zach Greinke 

The April release date for GQ gives Topps more of an opportunity to photoshop players into their new unis. There were at least the above four among our 18 cards. 

2016 Topps GQ #133 Mike Trout

I am all for card photos from other POV, but this one strikes me as a lil dull for a superstar of Trout's caliber.

2016 Topps GQ Power Alley PA-7 Dave Winfield

Home Run Hitters Insert.

2016 Topps Mini MVP #MVPM-BL Barry Larkin

Between this and the Perez SP it was kind of a Reds Hot Pack. Neither the Power Alley nor Mini MVP insert sets contain any Phillies.

Alex Cobb, Mike Moustakas, Charlie Blackmon, Yasiel Puig

The rest of our minis and framed cards are above.

21 Cards no Phillies.

Sources and Links
cardboard connection

Monday, April 18, 2016

ANNIVERSARY: April 17 1976 Mike Schmidt 4 Home Run Game

Missed a Phillies anniversary yesterday and wanted to correct that error today. Special thanks to @HighHeatStats for mentioning the event last night or else I would have completely bypassed the occasion.

2008 UD Baseball Heroes #138 Mike Schmidt 

On April 17th of 1976 Mike Schmidt became the first NL player to hit four consecutive Home Runs in a game. The feat was commemorated on the above card in the 2008 UD Baseball Heroes set.

2008 UD Baseball Heroes #138 Mike Schmidt (b-side)

The back has a capsule summary of the wild game which the Phillies eventually won 18-16.  Schmidt's final Home Run of the four broke a 15-15 tie in the 9th inning.

Upper Dreck
Just gotta mention one of those things that will always bug me, Schmidt's four homer game came at Wrigley field but the UD card captures him in a Home uni - slackers.

Sources and Links
Phungo Mike Schmidt HoF Index
High Heat Stats Twitter

Sunday, April 17, 2016

HoF Laker Elgin Baylor

With Sunday Night Baseball in LA and the recent retirement Kobe Bryant I wanted to take a look at one of the first LA Lakers, Elgin Baylor

1961-62 Fleer #46 Elgin Baylor

Elgin Baylor played the entirety of his Hall of Fame career with the Lakers, but in two different towns, 2 seasons in Minnesota and a dozen in LA.

The 11 time All-Star earned the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award with Seattle U in 1958. He followed that up by being drafted first overall and winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award for 1958-59.

Baylor was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977. Following his playing career Elgin stayed in basketball as a coach with the Utah Jazz and executive with the LA Clippers.  He was named to the NBA All-Time Teams for both the leagues 35th (1980) and 50th (1996) Anniversaries.

1961-62 Fleer #46 Elgin Baylor (b-side)

The last 22 cards of 1961-62 Fleer Hoop are Action shots. The simple clean backs don't contain stats but do have a healthy paragraph on the player. In addition there is a nice closing sentence describing the action in the shot on the card front.

Phungo Colleciton V1.0
There are two 61-62 Fleer cards in the Phungo collection, they are both from my childhood collecting years. I am not sure how they came into my hands but I was 11 or 12 at the time, which would have been the late 1970s. I think it my father may have gotten them from a co-worker. At the time they were the oldest cards in the collection.

A Classmate who was a bigger sports nerd than myself had to explain who Elgin Baylor was. That classmate is now working in a University Sports Info Department.

Sources and Links
Cardboard Connection

Thursday, April 14, 2016

2016 Wall of Fame inductee Jim Thome

The Phillies have announced that this year’s Wall of Fame inductee will be Jim Thome

2003 Donruss Studio #165 Jim Thome

Jim Thome’s tenure in Philadelphia was short but it had an impact. He may not have been a member of the playoff teams but he was an important piece that the organization needed to generate publicity while ramping up to opening of a new stadium.

The numbers for Thome’s 3+ Years are impressive, 101 Home Runs including an NL leading 47 in 2003 when he finished 4th in the MVP voting. He followed that up with an All-Star appearance in 2004. During each of his first two seasons in Philadelphia he finished top 10 NL in a number of offensive categories Homers, RBIs, Walks, SLG, and OPS.

2003 Donruss Studio
Picked this one because it features Thome in front of Veteran’s Stadium – the outgoing stadium. Regardless the building was good to Big Jim, He hit 28 dingers in the building including one on September 27 2003 which was the Final Home Run ever hit at the Vet. Later in that game he would also be plated on a Chase Utley single as the winning run in the Phillies final Veteran’s Stadium Walk-off Win.

One of the things I like about this picture is that just beyond Thome’s shoulders it features one of the giant statues that were set at the entrances of the Vet.  The sculptures were retained when Veteran's stadium was imploded and now sit around the former stadium’s perimeter.

Sources and Links
Phillies Wall of Fame Index
Phungo Jim Thome PC index

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

1976 ASG +40: Randy Jones 1977 Topps #550

Tonight with the Padres in town for the Phillies first home series we are going to take a look at the the NL Starting Pitcher for the 1976 All-Star game Randy Jones.

1977 Topps #550 Randy Jones

Randy Jones earned the honor by recording an NL record 16 victories during the first half of the 1976 season. Jones got the W in the game pitching 3 shutout innings for the Home Squad, allowing 2 hits and a walk. Jones was a ground ball specialist and induced a double play to eliminate one of those runners. Notables that Jones shut down in those three innings were Rod Carew twice including the DP, as well as borderliner Hallers Bobby Grich, Fred Lynn and Thurman Munson.

It was the 2nd All-Star game for Jones who had also recorded a save in the 1975 Mid-Summer Classic. He was the first player to Earn a Save followed by a W in consecutive All-Star Games.

His first half success continued throughout the season, Jones finished 22-14 with a 2.74 ERA leading the league in Wins, Starts, CGs (25!!), Innings (315+), Batters Faced and WHIP (1.027). It all added up to a Cy Young Award for the 26 Year Old Jones.

1977 Topps
Great Card, The Padres Colors, The 77T All-Star Flair, Randy Jones Warming Up, and his epic 1970s hair.

1977 Topps #550 Randy Jones (b-side)

The text here hits the highlights of Jones' 1976 ASG performance which ties in nicely to both our theme and the the All-Star flair on the front.

I also like the Trivia Toon, Lolich set the LH K record in 1975 and we honored the 40th anniversary of that game in a posting from our 1976 Topps Record Breakers Series.

Instream Sports
If you have any interest in the 1976 ASG and have some free time there is a terrific article at Instream Sports where they basically watch a stream of the game and discuss it with folks that were involved. In the 1976 ASG article the players that are interviewed are Randy Jones and Phillies Alum Al Oliver.

Yes Randy Jones is wearing a Perm, his wife did his first one with a bottle of Toni. 

Sources and Links
1976 All-Star Game Index 
Dave Jordan Instream Sports

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cole Hamels SABRmetrician?

 2010 UD Pure Heat #PH-4 Cole Hamels 

In a Dallas Moring News article over the weekend Cole Hamels spoke about the use of Analytics with his new club the Texas Rangers:

"The scouting here is much more reliant on analytics than I had," Hamels said. "So much of what I did before was based on experience. Everything is right there on the iPad. I've been able to get stuff from the analytics that allows me to get something about [opponents'] approaches and get a better feel for their strengths and weaknesses."

This is only confirming what Phillies fans have always suspected, the team is lagging behind other organizations in the use of statistical analysis.

The significance here is that as far as I know Cole Hamels is the most prominent player to point out the Phillies lack of emphasis.

Specifically here Hamels points to knowing an opponents Strengths and Weaknesses. This is not anywhere near new. Curt Schilling has mentioned numerous times that his preparation included the keeping of copious notes on opponents and even umpires.

Of course breaking away from traditional approaches is never easy. I also recall the late Cory Lidle was derided by other members of the Phillies pitching staff of the era (2004-2006 Phillies) for over-reliance on the computer.

 2010 UD Pure Heat #PH-4 Cole Hamels (b-side)

Pure Heat
Selected tonight's card because Apparently Cole was Winning with the Phillies using PURE HEAT rather than big time data crunching.

I don't believe All the Answers to building a better baseball teams are in the stats, but I do think that the Phillies could make more and better use of the numbers.

Sources and Links
Dallas Morning News

Jackie Robinson Doc by Ken Burns airing on PBS

I enjoyed what I have seen from Ken Burns in "Baseball" and his other films. This week his latest project a Biopic on Jackie Robinson is airing on PBS.

Tonight will feature the second half of the doc, but I doubt you need to fret over missing the first half.  I am sure the will be broadcast a few times in the upcoming weeks and across different platforms every spring for the next several years.

2016 Topps Berger's Best #BB-5 Jackie Robinson

This Near Mint specimen is, of course, not an original 1956 Topps card of Jackie Robinson. It is a reissue which was inserted into 2016 Topps. 

2016 Topps Berger's Best #BB-5 Jackie Robinson (b-side)

Yes we see a lot of the same cards issued repeatedly in Topps insert sets each year. I prefer this years card discussion on the back of the cards over the straight reprint of the original backs.

Although there is a bit of slight of hand in the description. The text mentions that the action shot is a steal of home and then goes on to mention Robinson stole home in the World Series. This however is not the Series Steal.

We searched Corbis Images (a first for team Phungo) and found the image on the card. Corbis was good enough to give us a lot of info, the picture is from a game played on August 29th 1955 during a Dodgers 10-4 victory over the Cardinals. The Batter (#45) with his back to us is Phillies one time pitching coach Johnny Podres and the St Louis catcher is Bill Sarni.

According to Corbis the Photographer was Frank Jurkoski. I didn't find much on Jurkoski, my limited digging found that he was a Sports Photographer, Beyond Corbis, I was able to find his credits for New York Journal American and International New Service.

I did find that the action shot on  1956 Topps #18 Dick Donovan was one of Jurkoski's photos.

Sources and Links
NJ Baseball
Jackie Robinson HoF Index
Corbis Images 
Ken Burns
Popular Photography
Oklahoma History 
Harry Ransom Center UT Austin

Monday, April 11, 2016

2016 Topps Scouting Report #SRA-AN Aaron Nola (rc - auto)

The Phillies Home Opener versus the San Diego Padres is today and 2nd year pitcher Aaron Nola will be the starting for the home squad.

Both the Aaron Nola Base and Autograph cards were part of the promotional material published by Cardboard Connection. I saw each card several times over the last couple of months but didn't really examine them until I took part in the Nachos Grande group break.

2016 Topps Scouting Report Autograph #SRA-AN Aaron Nola

I am not sure how many collectors would consider Aaron Nola a good pull in a Hobby Box break of 2016 Topps, but if you have the Phillies in a Grouper it is a great pick.

When the cards from the group break arrived I quickly realized that the Nola Auto card has a different image than the base card

2016 Topps #133 Aaron Nola
2016 Topps Scouting Report Autograph #SRA-AN Aaron Nola

Similar but definitely different. Notice on the base card Nola's head is angled more toward home. It also appears the index finger on his pitching hand is below the seam on the base card while it covers the seam on the auto. The angle of the non-pitching hand is different in the two shots.

Getty the Game
Both pictures were shot from the same angle and in fact were taken during the same game by the same photographer.  We discussed the base card last week and noted that the photo was this one taken by Miles Kennedy. The shot on the Auto card was also taken by Kennedy but it was taken an inning later than the base card.

During the 2nd inning of the game on July 21 2015 Aaron Nola faced four hitters yielding only one hit a single to Jake Elmore. Also during that same inning Nola recorded a strikeout of Rene Rivera.

2016 Topps Scouting Report Autograph #SRA-AN Aaron Nola (b-side)

The back of Nola's card mentions his best game of the season, a 2-0 combined shutout of the Marlins in which he got through 8 innings yielding just three hits while striking out six. The game is discussed on Nola's base card as well.

Phungo Game Cards
The picture is from a game attended by Team Phungo and will join the list of Phungo Game Cards.

Sources and Links
2016 Topps Index
2016 Topps Phillies
Getty Images

Sunday, April 10, 2016

1976 All-Star Game +40: Ron LeFlore

Tonight ESPN Sunday Night Baseball was supposed to be airing from Detroit but the Tigers game with the Yankees had to be postponed due to inclement weather.

Here at Phungo HQ we are up to the challenges of the elements and will continue our 1976 All-Star Game retrospective with a look at Tigers Alum Ron LeFlore

1977 Topps #240 Ron LeFlore All-Star

1976 was probably LeFlore's best season and he was rewarded with his only All-Star nomination. He started Left Field and led off for the AL squad. Unfortunately LeFlore was erased on a double play ground out so he didn't get to show off his speed during the game. His 455 career steals rank 52nd all time and include leading each league once (68 SB AL 1978, 97 SB NL 1980).

LeFlore is an interesting baseball figure. A troubled youth he found himself in prison for armed robbery at the age of 22 in 1970. While in prison he picked up baseball and was discovered by Tigers manager Billy Martin. The story was chronicled in his (auto)-biography "Breakout: From Prison to the Big Leagues" co authored with Tigers writer and Spink Award Nominee Jim Hawkins. The book begat the film "One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story" which was starred LeVar Burton as LeFlore and was directed by prolific TV filmmaker William A Graham

1977 Topps
Nice to see LeFlore get honored with the 77T All-Star Flair, plenty of players in the 1970s era made multiple ASGs but never get an All-Star card.

1977 Topps #240 Ron LeFlore All-Star (b-side)

The text covers LeFlore's All-Star game appearance and also mentions a 30 Game Hit streak he had in 1976. The streak lasted from the Tigers fourth game on April 17th through May 27th. Yankees Pitchers Ed Figueroa and Tippy Martinez shut down LeFlore on May 28th, 1976.

Also I would like to point out the demographics note LeFlore was both born and lived in Detroit. Definitely despite a troubled past (and present) a Tigers favorite.

Finally the Cartoon. Love this one as it covers Frank Robinson winning MVP awards in both leagues. This was discussed in our posting on Robinson's 1967T #100 card, which mentions the fact in the text and has it's own -toon mentioning his 1966 AL MVP award.

Voices in the Crowd
This card was covered by the Baseball 1977

Sources and Links
Baseball 1977
1976 All-Star Game Index
Robert Niemi: History in the Media: Film and Television
Jim Hawkins - Toronto Sun (2013 0226)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

2016 Topps #133 Aaron Nola (rc)

Aaron Nola didn't earn the Opening Day start for the rebuilding 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. That honor rightfully went to veteran Jeremy Hellickson.

Nola did earn the #2 spot in the rotation.

2016 Topps #133 Aaron Nola

The nice thing about getting the b-slot is that if the weather cooperates Nola will get the opportunity start the Phillies Home Opener on Monday.

The #133 card is Nola's first flagship card, and will likely be considered his rookie card - Note the mandatory RC flair in the bottom right. This likely will end up being the image my memory will permanently attach to 2016 Topps.

2016 Topps #133 Aaron Nola (b-side)

Nice blurb on the back of the card, the Text mentions that the Phillies sold 8,500 tix in the days leading up to Aaron Nola's debut - One of those tickets went to Team Phungo. The Phillies may have lost the game 1-0 but it still felt like a W, a symbolic turning of the page to a new generation of players.

Getty the Game
Now we get to the reason I love this card. The text on the back ties to the image on the front. I quickly perused the pictures on Getty Images and found this photo which was taken July 21 2015 during Nola's debut. The Getty Details are even good enough to mention that the picture was taken during the first inning, There were four batters in that inning the most prominent of which was Evan Longoria.

The Photo is credited to Miles Kennedy who has a few sports related images in the Getty library and appears to be a staff photographer with the Phillies.

Finally since this card features both a Photo on the front and text on the back that refers to a game team Phungo attended the card gets added to our favorite subset, the Phungo Games Collection.

2016 WAR
Hoping for a good sophomore year from Aaron Nola, +2.1. 

Sources and Links
Phungo Game Cards Index
2016 Topps Index
2016 Topps Phillies
Getty Images

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions