Happy Birthday to HOF'er, Whiz Kid, Robin Roberts. The Phillies great turns 83 today. The seven time all-star finished his career with 286 wins. In 1952 Robin racked up 28 wins. Denny McLain (31 in 1968) is the only man to reach this mark since.
Phil Rizutto was not the only ballplayer to appear on "What's My Line". In this 1957 episode Mr. Roberts appeared but not as a mystery guest. He has something in common with Forrest Gump.
Brooklyn Dodgers hero Johnny Podres was born on this date in 1932. Johnny won two games in the the 1955 World Series against the rival New York Yankees including a 2-0 shutout in the 7th game. It gave the Brooklyn Dodgers their only WS Championship.
Happy Birthday to Fifth Dimension member Marilyn McCoo who is turning 66 today. When she sang the words "I love you Bill, I always will", to her husband Bil(ly) Davis Jr., she really meant them. Marilyn and Billy celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this past July. Congratulations!
The 1972 Topps set is one of my favorites. It screams early 70's. It's colorful. It has a lot of great players from my youth. Here are a handful I picked sort of randomly from my box of commons.
Great full airbrush job here. Ken was on the Cubs in 1971. Poor Ken, he only won the next three World Series. Good for you Kenny.
Remember what I said about "great players from my youth"? Archie wasn't one of them. I just like the way he looks here with the great sideburns and all. He was 0-8 lifetime and 1972 was his last year in the majors. It'd be interesting to know what set has the highest percentage of cards of players in their last season.
Jim Lonborg had a nice career that might have been much better if not for a bad knee caused by a skiing accident in the winter of 1968. Jim is now Dr. Lonborg having become a dentist at the end of his playing days. I love the sh*t eating grin in this picture.
Here's another pitcher who had a nice career. He's 4th all-time in wins for the Phillies. He passed away in 1988 after an burst aneurysm. I think he looks like Sean Penn in this card.
I'll end this post with this nice young musician who will now play "Lady of Spain" for you.
You just don't hear of many men named Fran these days. Maybe you never did. There wasn't a Fran Sinatra or Frannie Valli, no Fran Lloyd Wright nor Fran Zappa. There's Fran Drescher...but that's another story.
There are only two athletes I can think of with the name Fran. One is in the Hall of Fame, the other had a better career as a broadcaster than a ballplayer.
The first is:
1969 Topps # 150
Fran never won a Super Bowl but when he retired after the 1978 season he held NFL career records in pass attempts, completions, yardage, and touchdowns; rushing yards by a quarterback; and wins by a starting quarterback. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
I remember Fran Tarkenton as a Minnesota Viking torturing the Bears with last minute drives. I don't know how many times this really happened but in memory it seems like dozens.
Here's a little limerick:
There once was a Viking named Fran, Who took up the football and ran. He eluded the linemen and linebackers too Until to his man in the end zone he threw And dashed hopes of every Bears fan.
The other Fran that comes to mind is former catcher and current New York broadcaster Fran Healy.
1972 Topps #663
Fran played for nine seasons from 1969 to 1978. He accumulated about one third of his 332 hits in 1974 when he hit .252 (just about his lifetime average) for the KC Royals. It was the only year in which he appeared in more than 100 games. Since his playing days he has been a broadcaster with both the Mets and Yankees. I'm sure those of you in the NY area are very familiar with his work. Not so much here in Chicago.
Fran may not be the most manly name but it's better than Sue:
HOFer Phil Rizzuto and Braves favorite Johnny Sain were both born on this date, Rizzuto in 1916, Sain in 1917. Some sources list Rizzuto as 1917 as well. They died less than a year apart, Sain in 2006, Rizzuto in 2007.
Here's a fun bit of trivia. Who was the first "Mystery Guest" on the TV show "What's My Line"? Take a look below:
Johnny Sain won 95 games for the Boston Braves in five years, 1946-1950. He followed his playing career with many years as a respected pitching coach for six teams. In 1948 Sain along with Warren Spahn were immortalized when sportswriter Gerald V. Hern published this poem in the Boston Globe:
First we'll use Spahn then we'll use Sain Then an off day followed by rain Back will come Spahn followed by Sain And followed we hope by two days of rain.
Today is also the birthdate of noted 20th century artist Mark Rothko whose "color field" paintings are instantly recognizable.
I am a Cubs fan. I've always been and will always be a Cubs fan. That being said I am also a BASEBALL fan. Today I read this article on MLB.com, Pujols making his mark on MLB history and I just had to express my admiration for Albert, even if he is a Cardinal. The man just keeps putting up the numbers but beyond that does it with class.
The Bears won on Sunday (a miracle?) so I decided to post some vintage football cards. The first thing I found was this: I wasn't sure of the year, 67, 68, 69? I know my baseball but I'm weak on the sixties FB. I did like the look of the card so I pulled all the others I had. This was what I found: One each of Billy Cannon, Tom Keating, Herb Addlerley, Jim Grabowski, 2 each of Fred Biletnikoff and George Blanda, and 5 of Daryle Lamonica. How strange I thought, I only have 13 cards from this year and 11 are Raiders, 2 Packers? Did I lose all the rest? Of course, if you know your football cards you know where I went wrong. A little research told me that the two Superbowl teams from the previous January were given specially designed horizontal cards. It all fell into place after that.
Here's what the regular cards look like:
#74 John Mackey
#184 Jack Snow
This episode of Bewitched ran on April 17, 1969. Jack Snow appears (out of nowhere) at about the 08:50 point in this video.
Here's a few more of the Raiders/Packers cards.. By the way the Packers won Superbowl II 33-17. It was the Pack's second straight championship and Bart Starr was repeat MVP. The Packers legendary coach Vince Lombardi retired after this, his final game.
#183 Jim Grabowski
#131 Herb Adderley
#168 Fred Biletnikoff
Series 1 of the 1968 set has green backs:
Series 2 has blue backs: As you can see in the examples above some cards were interactive. You had to rub over the space at the bottom with a coin to reveal the cartoon.
20 of the cards had images on the back that when assembled made up pictures of either Bart Starr or Len Dawson. The back of Fred Biletnikoff's card is one of them: The annoying thing is that for every card like this you lose all the information you would normally get for the player on the front. In this case it is adding insult to injury as Fast Freddie's bio is obliterated by the man who beat his team in the Superbowl.
As I said at the start, I like the horizontal design used with the Packers/Raiders. I think the whole set would have been better this way.
Check out an example of the same year's hockey set: It's very similar in design to the special football design but it was used for the entire set.
Extra credit just for fun---Would anyone like to finish the following limerick?-- "There once was a man named Lamonica...
Today is Montreal Canadiens great, Guy Lafleur's 58th birthday. In the storied history of the Canadiens Guy ranks #8 in games played, 1st in points and assists, 2nd in goals scored, and 1st in game winning goals, among other records. Known as "The Flower" amongst English speaking fans he was known by French speaking fans as "le Demon Blond" (the blond demon). Guy won 5 Stanley Cups with Montreal. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988.
In 1979, Lafleur released an album called 'Lafleur'. The album consisted of Guy reciting hockey instructions and singing, accompanied by disco music. I'm going to show you the album. If you want to subject yourself to the "music" feel free to Google it.
Now that American Heritage Heroes has hit the blogs I was thinking about a set from a few years ago. It's Upper Deck's, The History of the United States, a 300 card set that's basically a grammar school text book in trading cards. Here are six of my favorite cards from the Inventors and Inventions subset.
None other than Albert Einstein. Unless he's about to diagram a "sweep right" we're not going to understand it. In 1921 Einstein traveled to the US with Chaim Weizmann the future 1st President of Israel. From Einstein by Walter Isaacson, "It was by all accounts, a pleasant Atlantic crossing, during which Einstein tried to explain relativity to Weizmann. Asked upon their arrival whether he understood the theory, Weizmann gave a delightful reply: "During the crossing, Einstein explained his theory to me every day, and by the time we arrived I was fully convinced that he really understands it."
Les Paul passed away this summer. You can't imagine rock and roll without him.
A great picture of Edwin Land demonstrating his revolutionary Polaroid film. From Wikipedia, "Although Land never received a formal degree, he received honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Carnegie Institute of Technology, Willams College, Tufts College, Washington University, Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, University of Massachusetts, Brandeis University and many others. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award given to a U.S. citizen, in 1963 for his work in optics. He held 535 patents, compared with Thomas Edison's 1,097 American patents. In 1977 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 1988 Land was awarded the National Medal of Technology for "the invention, development and marketing of instant photography".
Did you even know there was a "Mr." Zamboni? Well aren't you smart! You can go resurface the ice now. I actually played "Pong" on a first generation Atari when I was in high school. It seemed cool at the time. For some reason I always think of Gilda Radner when I see a slinky. It has to do with this bit from SNL: Mr. DiLaBounta: Uh, Enid.. I hope this isn't indelicate, but.. [ picks his nose ] ..how did Mr. Loopner pass away?
Mrs. Loopner: Oh.. he was born without a spine. It was always just a matter of time.
Mr. DiLaBounta: What did he do for a living?
Mrs. Loopner: Oh, didn't you know? He invented the Slinky.
Lisa Loopner: Yeah.. unfortunately, he didn't call it the Slinky, and he didn't patent it. But he sued the Slinky people for $5 million.. and lost.