Saturday, January 12, 2008

Donation from Fleerfan, Part One: Ramos, Arrigo, Raymond, Bryan

Hey, I actually have an update for you! Reader Fleerfan, who writes the informative Fleer Sticker Project, was generous enough to send me a package containing 20 cards from the 1965 Topps set! To make this whole thing more manageable, I will take a closer look at the cards in increments of four. So I'll have new content on a consistent basis for the next week or two, which is a good start.

Here's a classic Topps cheat. Ramos joined the Yankees via trade with the Indians in September 1964, so they didn't have time to photograph him in his new uniform. Instead of airbrushing (as they would in later years), they simply picked a picture of him hatless. Sure, he's still wearing an Tribe jersey; you can see the red piping instead of the expected navy pinstripes. But who's counting? Pedro's got an interesting stat line: he had a 12-10 record in 1956 as a 21-year old sophomore with the Senators, the first of seven consecutive seasons with both double-digit wins and losses. For the next six years, he logged losing records, including an 11-20 campaign in 1961 with the Twins. As a result, Pedro finished his career with a gruesome 117-160 won-lost record. But the Yankees caught lightning in a bottle with him, as they used him exclusively in the bullpen in September 1964 and he saved 8 games with a 1.25 ERA, a 0.60 WHIP, and a ridiculous 21-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Without him, the Yanks might not have gone to the World Series; they finished just one game ahead of the White Sox and two games up on the Orioles.

#39 Gerry Arrigo
Gerry's changing places as well, as Topps is somewhat on the ball. The cartoon on the back indicates that Gerry was traded to the Reds in December 1964. I'm not sure why they didn't just identify him with the Reds on the front, but what the hey. I do love the old-school Twins handshake logo. There aren't enough sports team logos featuring signs of affection. The only other one I can think of is the Kenosha Tree-huggers of the NBDL, which I just made up. A quick check of Baseball Reference tells me that the player the Twins received for Gerry was Cesar Tovar. I'd go ahead and say that Minnesota got the better end of that deal.

#48 Claude Raymond
Get a load of this handsome devil. Love those clear-rimmed specs - Chris Sabo, eat your heart out. You may notice something strange about this card; it simply says "Houston" instead of the team nickname. As you can see from Claude's hat, the Houston franchise entered the National League as an expansion team in 1962, along with the Mets. They were known as the Colt .45s, or the Colts for short. Unsurprisingly, the Colt Firearms Company took issue with the team making money off of their brand. The team changed their name to the Astros in December, presumably too late for Topps to make the change. I suppose they new the change was coming, as they went with the city name and generic state-of-Texas graphic on the early series cards. They would make a change in later series of the set, as you will see in a future post. (Ooh, cliffhanger!)

#51 Billy Bryan
Believe it or not, Billy Bryan is twenty-five years old in this photo. Maybe it's the funny protruding ears, maybe it's the peach fuzz or the unconventional kelly green and yellow uniforms that were Charlie O. Finley's brainchild, but he looks much younger. There's something great about the color scheme of the card itself; the red pennant on the black base really makes it pop. Billy was mostly a bench player in eight seasons, with a .216 average that would make Mario Mendoza proud. However, considering the pitcher-dominated era he played in, his numbers weren't that much lower than the league average. Besides, my good friends at Baseball Reference tell us that his career most resembled that of the cult hero Sal Fasano, so he can't be all that bad.

Well, now that I worked in a Sal Fasano reference, I think I can call it a day. Be back soon with the next foursome!


  1. Kevin - Glad to see you received the cards. Great research on these guys! I'm looking forward to the rest of your reviews.

    - Fleerfan

  2. Ah, but we can see the change they made to the Astros cards just by looking at the graphic/logo at the top of the page.

    This is really interesting, though.
    I wish I had some 1965s to trade you ...
    (I don't, but I'll see if I have anything else on your want list.)

  3. Yeah, I just realized today that the banner contains the Astros pennant. Boy, is my face read. Let me know if you find anything to trade!

  4. I like those cool old Kansas City Athletics uniforms. Everybody from San Diego to Boston to Seattle to Florida have such drab, dark uniforms nowadays. And the black "alternate" jerseys of teams like the Marlins and Rockies along with the sloppy oversized pants only make things worse.