Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#49 Roy Face - Pittsburgh Pirates - Closer before the era of pitch counts

Pitch counting is something that was not so popular until around the time of the '69 Mets and their fleet of incredible young arms. Preserving their natural strength while they built their mechanics made sense. It made even more sense during the era of free agency which came about in the early 70's. Higher investments means higher concerns for a pitcher's throwing arm. A solid bullpen player wasn't as revered as it would become during the 70's with Rollie Fingers or Tug McGraw or Al Hrabosky. That brings me to one of the unsung bullpen aces of his day, Roy Face. All one has t do is look at the stats of the '67 Topps card to see how a career relief pitcher's best stats are ignored. A career 91-84 record and a 3.56 ERA is not very impressive when you look at it on the back of the card. The card looks like his one highlight was his winning 18 consecutive games in relief in 1959.

Digging deeper into the stats reveals Face's true worth as a pitcher. Three times he led the league in games finished and three times he led the league in saves. Face came up when the Pirates were struggling for wins. They had a string of 9 straight losing seasons until they named Danny Murtaugh their manager and that's when they became serious.

Face had a length career which spanned 3 decades and ended in his early 40's. I have admiration for Face since we're both the same height but he made the most of it as a professional athlete, having a career last 17 years in the Majors is impressive by every standard and it's doubly impressive when considering he was a 3 time All Star. He was featured strongly in the '60 World Series where he registered 3 saves in their 4 wins.

This Face card is a bit of an enigma. I want to think the photo was taken in a Major League ballpark but it looks more like a spring training field. The stands look to be a single tier and spring training photos weren't unusual for this set. The action behind Face is a nice change of pace from other posing photos are standard fare.

Much like the Tiger cards, the Pirates lettering is striking with a deep purple color super imposed against the photo. The black/white/gold color of the uniforms with that lettering in the foreground is a nice touch.

#48 Bill Freehan - Detroit Tigers - Why is he not in the Hall of Fame?

 I am not wild about turning this blog into an advocate forum for action. Debatable discussions distract from what the mission statement of my blog is which is to honor the 1967 Topps baseball card set.

However, I do ask the question with an impartial attitude. Why is Bill Freehan not in many discussions when it comes to being included in the Hall of Fame?

Perhaps his career batting average of .262 is a handicap when talking HOF but his 11 All Star appearances should make up for that. Maybe the era of heavy hitting and talented fielding catchers short changed Freehan when it comes to HOF honors. Whatever the reason. I do wonder. He had a tremendous career that maybe ended a little too soon at the age of 34.

Freehan made numerous appearances on Topps cards. He was well featured and for good reason with the All Star appearances. His cards are good for collecting if you want star cards that are not priced into orbit. Examples of these cards in the 1950's were Minnie Minoso, Bobby Thomson Ted Kluszewski and Gil Hodges. Bill Freehan is an example for the 1960's. There's more of course but I'll cover them when they come up.

As for the card, it's clearly a Spring Training photo. It features a good pose instead of a dull head and shoulders photo. The striking color of the letters works well with the green turning yellow grass field in the background. I wonder if the color of the field in most of the photos featuring Tiger players inspired the use of the purple letters.

The signature is somewhat obscured by the grass background. The back of the card isn't shy about the real reason Freehan was a regular all star. His career fielding percentage of. 993 and 38% caught stealing pct is still impressive. Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter didn't manage career averages as high as Freehan did with those two stats. All three are in the Hall of Fame by the way.