Rock and Roll fans may know that my all-time favorite band, The Who, were once known as The High Numbers. Thanks to the miracle of some extremely poor Photoshop work, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltry, Keith Moon and John Entwistle have been replaced on this album cover with Frank Robinson, Kim Kaat, Joe Morgan and Moe Drabowski.
That’s right, I have now added some high number cards to my collection!
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a friend of mine “Scott” who sent me about 100 cards to aid me in my quest. This week, a new friend and faithful reader, “Dennis,” has come through with a slew of high number cards. The high number cards are tough to find and, as a result, they can get expensive. But due to my history of clean living, Dennis has graciously offered to aid me and for that I’m extremely grateful.
So let’s get to it.
Card # 749 – Walter Alston
When I opened the package from Dennis, this Walter Alston card was sitting on top. At first glance, and I’m ashamed to admit it, I said to my wife, “This is great, except someone wrote on it.”
It was only after I read the letter Dennis sent along with the cards that I realized that the person who wrote on the card was Alston and what he wrote was his name.
Alston was from Ohio and after he retired from a tremendously successful career as skipper of the Dodgers, he moved from Los Angeles to the bustling metropolis of Darrtown, Ohio. Talk about culture shock. When he was a kid, Dennis got Alston to sign a few cards and among that lot was this 72 Topps.
Managers today complain about heading into a season with only one year remaining on their contract. They hate being labeled a lame duck and feel it undermines their ability to manage the team. Alston managed the Dodgers for 23 seasons on 23 one year contracts. He won 2,063 games, two World Series titles and six Manager of the Year awards.
He retired at the end of the 1976 season and was succeed by some guy named Lasorda. What ever happened to him?
Card #687 – Del Unser
Del Unser’s 1972 Topps card shows him as a member of the Cleveland Indians, one of five teams he played for in his ten year major league career. As far as I’m concerned, Del Unser will always be a Philadelphia Phillie.
He joined the Phils in 1973, the spent time with the Mets and the Expos before returning to Philadelphia for the 1979 season. He was a key part of the 1980 Phillies World Series championship team. In Game two, the Royals scored three runs in the top of the 7th to take a 4-2 lead and trotted out Dan Quisenberry to protect the lead.
But Unser came through with a big pinch hit double into left center field as part of a four run rally to spark the Phils and give them a two games to none lead in the series they ultimately won in six.
Del Unser, I salute you!
Segui had a 15 year career, primarily as a relief pitcher but he is the answer to one of my favorite trivia questions. He is the only player to appear in the first ever game for both the Seattle Pilots and the Seattle Mariners.
On April 8th, 1969, Segui pitched three innings in relief of starter Marty Pattin in a 4-3 Pilots win. Eight years later, he was the Mariners’ opening day starter, going three and two thirds and surrendering a home run to Joe Rudi in a 7-0 loss. Noth games were against the Angels.
Additionally, Segui’s son, David, hit the only foul ball I ever caught. It was at a spring training game in Clearwater and Segui was playing for the Orioles at the time. He sliced a ball foul down the left field line that I snared on the fly. My efforts were rewarded with a free beverage from the beer guy.
I love spring training.
Card #738 – Bill Russell
Russell was a young shortstop entering just his 3rd season with the Dodgers under the aforementioned Alston.
Russell was a fine big league shortstop who later managed the Dodgers. One of the first things I noticed about this card was that, like his teammate Jim Lefebvre, Russell was rocking the single black batting glove on his left hand. That must have been a thing with the Dodgers that year.
My other memory of Russell was being in attendance when Russell was playing against the Reds at beautiful Riverfront Stadium and suffered a broken finger after being hit by Mike LaCoss in a 1980 game against the Reds. Russell’s loss was a big blow to the Dodgers that season, who ultimately lost the NL West crown to the Houston Astros by one game. The Dodgers were forced to turn to Derrel Thomas at shortstop for the remainder of the season.
Card #680 – Dave Johnson
Most remember Johnson as the manager of the juggernaut (both on and off the field) 1986 Mets as well as the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers and Nationals.
I’ve always remembered Johnson for one incredible season. From 1965 through 1972 as a member of the Orioles, Johnson hit .259 with 66 homers in just under 3,500 at bats. At the end of the ’72 season, Johnson was traded to Atlanta in a six player deal. All he did in his first season as a Brave was hit .270 with 43 homers. One of Johnson’s homers came as a pinch hitter, but 42 bombs at second base still stands as a single-season record, one he shares with Rogers Hornsby.
In fact, Johnson was one of three Braves to hit 40 or more home runs that season, joining Hank Aaron and Darrell Evans. They were the first team in major league history to boast three players to hit 40 or more. It’s a feat that’s only been accomplished three times in history and the other two were in Colorado… during the steroid era. Yet despite hitting 206 home runs as a team, they finished 5th in the NL West.
Thanks again to Dennis for his assistance!
Next week, the mysterious “Scott” resurfaces with more help. Thanks for reading!