Sunday, February 20, 2011

Who didn't get a card, but shoulda...

Today, I'm continuing to pick at the shortcomings my analysis of the 1968 set.

As I posted earlier with the 1966 and 1967 sets, here is a list of some of the players who didn't appear on a regular or rookie card in this set, along with the number of games played in 1968:

Most of these are rookies who made their debut in 1968. Reggie Jackson is a different case. He made his debut with the Athletics in June 1967, but in 118 at-bats in 35 games, he only hit 1 home run. Maybe this caused Topps to write him off as a non-factor. Fortunately for us, our fellow blogger Steve at White Sox Cards has filled the gap.

Bobby Bonds wasn't called up until late June, but he had been tearing up the minor leagues for over a year. Other rookies who grabbed a starting job at the start of the season included Del Unser and Bobby Cox (who both made the Topps 1968 all-rookie team).

Non-rookies without a card were Indians' 1st baseman Tony Horton (who never had a card in his 6-year career), Roberto Pena (a journeyman shortstop who joined the Phillies in late April and took over the starting job in May for the injured Bobby Wine), and Red Sox pitcher Sparky Lyle.

I can't imagine how Topps could have overlooked Reggie Jackson and Bobby Bonds for their teams' rookie cards, but almost all of these players could have been added to the 7th series, which was months away. (Did we really need all those extra Mets cards?)

5-15-2011 edit:
Yesterday, I learned that relief pitcher Dick Radatz didn't have a card in the 1968 set. Radatz (nicknamed "The Monster") broke in with the Red Sox in 1962 and finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting. He led the AL in (what would have been) saves in 1962 and 1964. In June 1966 he was traded to the Indians, and in April 1967 he moved on to the Cubs.

From 1962 to 1967, Dick appeared in 62, 66, 79, 63, 55, and 23 games. His last major-league appearance in 1967 was on July 7th. No doubt that was the reason he was left out of the 1968 set. Still, the Braves' Tommie Aaron was afforded a card in 1968 after not having played since the 1965 season, so why didn't Radatz get similar treatment? Dick spent the entire 1968 season in the minors, before resurfacing for 1 final season in 1969 with the Tigers and Expos. His final card was in the 1969 set.

12-27-2011 edit:
In addition to Dick Radatz, these players also had cards in 1967 and 1969, but not in 1968:
Johnny Podres - P (was retired during 1968)
Jesse Gonder - C (1967 was last year in majors)
Bob Chance - 1B
Dave Nicholson - OF
Gary Geiger - OF
Tommie Reynolds - OF
Galen Cisco - P
Fred Newman - P
Tom Egan - C
Chuck Harrison - 1B
Jim Beauchamp - OF
John Kennedy - 3B

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Distribution of teams within the 1968 set

Yesterday, I revisited my earlier post about the lack of a Giants Rookies card.

There were 25 cards for the Giants in 1968. However, in the 598 card set, the last Giant appears on card #545. This means that in the last 53 cards, there were no Giants. Was a planned Giants Rookies card pulled and replaced with someone else? Although the set starts off with each team being represented every 20 cards or so, in those final 53 cards, we have:

5 Mets (!?!)
4 Astros, Red Sox, Senators, and Yankees
3 Angels, Athletics, Indians, and Pirates
2 Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Orioles, Reds, Twins, White Sox
1 Tigers and Phillies

The Phillies were really cut short, having only ONE card among the last EIGHTY-SIX cards!

A further analysis of the entire set shows that some teams had as many as 5 more cards than other teams:

30 Orioles, Reds, Red Sox
29 Astros, Cubs, Mets, Senators
28 Athletics
27 Cardinals, Dodgers, Pirates, Twins, White Sox
26 Angels, Yankees
25 Braves, Giants, Phillies, Indians, Tigers

20 All stars
12 Leaders
8 World Series
7 Checklists
5 Other

So, my long-time suspicion that the Phillies were short-changed in the 1968 set turns out to be correct. (Trades were not the reason, as the only significant off-season Phillies' trades were Jim Bunning for Woodie Fryman, and Dick Ellsworth and Gene Oliver for Mike Ryan, which gives an imbalance of 1 card.)

Topps' late-series push of excessive Mets, Astros, Red Sox, and Senators cards sent the totals for those teams soaring above the team average.