Sunday, August 4, 2013

# 25 Elston Howard- Historic Player's Last Yankees Baseball card

There are more than a few notable player's final bubble gum cards in this classic '67 set. For decades, I always assumed this was Elston Howard's final card as well. Little did I know, he was featured in the '68 set with the Boston Red Sox. Howard had one last hurrah with the Red Sox, appearing in the '67 Series. 

This card was always viewed by me as being a prized possession. One of the cards I was most happy to have and it still is. Elston Howard was the star player of the golden era of the Yankees I never saw on television during the old timer's day ceremonies. He and Maris both died far to young.

Howard not only was the first African American baseball player in the Yankees organization, he was also one of their best. A nine time all star and one time MVP. A solid hitter in his career and also a great fielder who almost literally played everywhere. He played catcher, outfield and infield. He took on all of these assignments and remained a solid and focused slugger.

People for decades have criticized the Yankees for not integrating and breaking the major league color barrier until 1955. In defense to the Yankees, Howard was working his way to the Majors on a team that had one won five straight world championships and in 1954, the team broke 100 wins in the season for the first and last time in the decade. Ironically, they weren't close to catching the Cleveland Indians that season either. Howard started in the Yankees organization in 1950. Elston Howard lost a couple of seasons two military service, likely fighting in Korea. He returned to organized baseball after his military service.  During his years in the minors, Howard played catcher and the outfield. The Yankees in the Majors were loaded in both positions. Yogi Berra may have been the best placed catcer in all of baseball. He won three MVP awards within a span of four seasons, back to back in '54 and '55. Howard came up in the outfield in '55 and he never again spent a day in the minors.

The card looks excellent and it looks like it was taken on the same day ad by the same photographer as the Whitey Ford card. Howard's smile always reminded me of the power of optimism even though his hat looks like it was thrown back onto his head.  I imagine this was the case.

Howard was one of the last great Yankees from the era of the championships to appear in this '67 set. While this card was never worth more than $5, I felt it was worth $50

# 24 Bob Allen - Pitcher of the Cleveland Indians.

Here are the front and backs of one of the cards I saw most often as a kid. I always had a pair of these Bob Allen cards. One was kept in the set, the other was kept in my collection of cards. It never turned up where it was supposed to be, with my other '67 doubles! More often than I can to remember, that eye sore of a Indians baseball cap turned up in piles of '88 Donruss or '90 Fleer cards (so, maybe I wasn't so organized). Look at the card, and tell me what strikes you first. It's that darn hat! It must be.

 These Indian cards are very much the same as the Cardinal cards and here, we see how the Topps designers chose their color schemes for at least players wearing red uniforms. The light blue lettered team name in the foreground against the very red uniform and hat. The Topps designers also chose this color for the Red Sox (also uniforms with red).

I never knew anything about this player. His career in the majors was brief. He never pitched in the majors again after 1967. His time was spent entirely in the bullpen. While there, he did see alot of action. 274 innings pitched in 204 games. He finished 84 but only managed 19 saves in his career. Saves weren't made the way they are now. If you were in to close a game, you sometimes pitched 3 or even more innings. Today, the closing specialists pitch a single inning.  This is great for the salaries of these specialists but it is also invaluable to the team because the less time you see the pitcher, the harder it is to figure him out. This isn't so hard to do when a pitcher is out there for three innings and the entire lineup faces him during that game. This may or may not be the reason why Bob Allen finished his career with a losing 7-12 record. Ironically, he had hs best ERA in his last season. He went 0-5 but had a solid 2.98

I assumed from his Major League stats that he threw out his arm but it does look like he had a long minor league career after 1967, If he did have that injury, it came in '72 while pitching in the Padres farm system.

Allen was featured in the '62, '63, '64, '66, '67 and though he was done in the Majors, was in the '68 Topps sets. For some reason, Topps claims Bob Allen was a Pirate in their 1964 set though he apparently never spent a day pitching within their organization.  An odd, little know uncorrected error card.