Wednesday, August 18, 2010

#1 The Champs : Wooo Was Cincinnati Circa '66

I never felt much for the Reds and their fans but I feel for those who were their fans back in the mid 60's. Can you imagine your team giving up a guy who not only won the batting title immediately after leaving, but also helped carry that team to a World Series championship? Frank Robinson did both in '66 and here he is looking with a quiet confident smile out at the baseball diamond with Brooks Robinson and manager Hank Bauer.

Of course any baseball fan can say they saw trades they wish their team never made. Did you know the Yankees, during their dark years (post '81 and pre '96 when I was a devoted fan) had future 20 game winner (with the Pirates, traded for Rick Rhoden) Doug Drabek, All-Star (with the Cardinals) Bob Tewksbury, slugger (with the Mariners) Jay Buhner (traded for Ken Phelps....still hurts) and a man who should be in the Hall of Fame some day, Fred McGriff (he started in the Yankees farm system but was dropped before debuting with the Blue Jays, a team he helped lead to back to back world championships in '92 and '93) . Feel free to share your own painful recollections in the comments section. With the 80's to mid 90's era Yankees, I could start a whole new blog just on all of the mistakes The Boss George Steinbrenner made back then. I know I shouldn't speak ill of the dead, I will just say the name Howie Spira and leave it at that.

Bauer had a lot to smile about, he was the first manager in Major League history to have a perfect 1.000 winning percentage in the World Series. (Terry Francona and Ozzie Guillen have joined him with that percentage) As for Brooks Robinson, he is likely still the greatest all around 3rd baseman in the history of the game. Few players excelled as well and as long as he did in that position.

I always liked the group cards Topps put out and the '67 set is filled with them. I feel that these cards and the simple design of the standard issue helped make this set one of they most popular of the decade.

The yellow block letters stand out on the near the bottom border but unfortunately the names near the top border are almost completely lost in the background. Topps seemed to take this into consideration with the type of pictures they choose in the set, mostly spring training shots with a bright blue sky in the background. If this card has a criticism, it is the lost lettering near the top.

A running game I like to lay with cards generally is trying to guess where the pictures are taken. I will hazard to guess that this picture comes from Yankee Stadium. Topps was once based in New York (perhaps still is) and you will see many of their cards were taken either in Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium in this set. Throughout the years, you will recognize the stands and be able to determine just how many were taken in The Stadium. I am a Yankee fan so I will apologize now for the amount of references you will read about them and The Stadium.

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