The Great Candlestick Derrière Dilemma

Recently, a post on Twitter included Willie Montanez’s 1973 Topps card.  This “in action” shot taken during the 1972 season has always intrigued me, primarily due to half of the photo being comprised of the Giants’ pitcher’s butt.  Inquiring minds want to know whose derriere filled the camera lens. Through the miracle of “Retrosheet” via “Baseball Reference,” I was able to pin down three possibilities, one stronger than the others.

In 1972, the 12-team National League played 18 games against divisional opponents and 12 against teams from the other division.  Thus, the Phillies and the Giants each had six home games broken into two series. (The work stoppage at the beginning of 1972 season did alter this scheduling formula; however, the Giants versus Phillies games were not affected.)

During the Phillies’ initial trip to Candlestick in April 1972, the clubs met twice in day games.  However, Willie Montanez was not involved in a play at the plate in either game.  So, his slide into home had to happen during the second set of games in July.

On Saturday, July 16 and Sunday, July 17 the squads squared off under a bright sun beating down on the rock-hard AstroTurf. Montanez scored a run in the Saturday game after being walked by Don McMahon in the second inning. He moved to second on a single by Don Money and went to third after Oscar Gamble walked.  Catcher John Bateman singled, scoring Montanez. 

This could be the play at the plate, provided Bateman’s single was of the infield variety or a shallow “Texas Leaguer.” Otherwise, Willie could have walked home on a routine shot to the outfield.  The “San Francisco Examiner” sports page for Sunday, July 17, is not helpful.  The game summary does state that Montanez scorede, but there is no mention of a play at the plate.  Therefore, it is possible that the photo shows the “arse” of the veteran “slabsman” McMahon.

In this same game, Chris Speier of the Giants hit an inside-the-park home run off Steve Carlton.  Speier has a 1973 card showing him sliding into home with the Phillies catcher, John Bateman, attempting to tag him.  Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Montanez’s slide occurred on July 16 since the photographer may have attended both games.

In fact, a more plausible play at home occurred in the next day’s game.  In the top of the 4th inning, Montanez singled to center off the Giants’ starter, Jim Barr, and took second on an error by Gary Maddox.  He then scored from second on a single by Don Money. 

In many instances, scoring from second on a single will draw a throw home, resulting in the runner sliding.  Of course, this would mean that Jim Barr is the pitcher whose backside is seen “up close and personal.” Alas, the Monday, July 18 “San Francisco Examiner” offered no supporting evidence, since it failed to mention Willie’s run at all.

Although not definitive proof that the photographer attended both tilts, the 1973 Topps in game action photos for Phillies pitchers Barry Lersch and Dick Selma were clearly taken at Candlestick.  Lersch pitched on Saturday and Selma on Sunday.  So, the photographer could have been at both games. But this is not a certainty because both pitchers appeared at “the Stick” during day games on April 26 (Lersch) and 27 (Selma).

To completely muddy the waters off Candlestick Point, this photo could conceivably be from 1971!  In the first game of a double header on June 6, 1971, Montanez doubled to center off Steve Stone in the 6th inning. 

He scored from second on a single by the next batter, ironically Ron Stone.  On June 7, 1971, “The San Francisco Examiner” stated that Willie “streaked to the plate.” Of course, we still don’t know if there was a throw, necessitating a slide into home. So, Steve Stone’s “bum” could be front and center in the photo.

The odds still favor 1972.  Barry Lersch did pitch in the second game of the June 6, 1971 doubleheader, but Dick Selma didn’t pitch at Candlestick during the day in 1971.  Photos from two separate years seems unlikely but not impossible.

If you are still with me, you are probably asking yourself, “who the hell cares about Willie Montanez sliding into home or pitchers’ butts?” Without a doubt, these are valid questions.  My retort is this:  I used this as a forum to show some of the great “warts and all” action photos from this era.  To me, these photos are exponentially better than modern shots.  The backgrounds and multiple players provide clues and context lacking with today’s cards.  Besides, it’s important to know which long ago Giants hurler left his butt in San Francisco!

Author: Tim Jenkins

Sports memorablilia collector with Seattle teams emphasis. HOF autographs, baseball cards and much more. Teacher for over 30 years. Attended games at 35 different MLB parks.

8 thoughts on “The Great Candlestick Derrière Dilemma”

  1. Before I even read this post I saw the photo and thought, “Which old guy’s arse is that?” A man’s badungadung may be hard to judge by the eyeball, but I confidently place my vote on the 42 year old McMahon.

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  2. I’m putting in my vote for Jim Barr. Here’s why. The card photo seems to show two rather long horizontal, uh, bars at the very bottom of the block numbers on the pitcher’s uniform. Jim Barr wore number 33 throughout his time as a Giant. His number would have had those two bottom horizontal bars. The number that McMahon wore with the Giants, 47, had no bottom horizontal segments.

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  3. Great info! I don’t think it was McMahon. Here are some possibilities for the McMahon scenario (Sat, July 15-actually was the seventh inning, not the second). The bases were loaded with no outs (Montanez-3B, Money-2B, Gamble-1B). McMahon relieved Frank Reberger after the Money base hit.

    (1) No runner at third base. Whether or not Bateman’s single was a ground ball or bloop over an infielder’s head, all of the runners would be forced to advance (either immediately on a grounder or after a minimal delay if a bloop/line drive towards somebody. The Montanez card does not show a runner nearing third base–Money would have been at or near third based on where Montanez being at the plate–both the Giants 3B (Al Gallagher) and LF (Ken Henderson) can clearly be seen, plus the 3B is not moving toward the bag as he normally would if a runner was approaching or at the bag.

    (2) The pitcher looks pretty comfortable in his stance. For a pitcher to get into place on a single driving home a runner from third-whether a bloop or infield single-gournder, he would have had to leave the mound to run home as soon as the ball was hit in order to arrive at his “releaxed” stance before Montanez arrived at home. If he had done this and “just arrived” he would not be standing upright as he is shown, but would probably be looking over his shoulder back towards the play, still running to get into position. If Montanez had to delay his run home to see if the ball was going to be caught (bloop single over the head of an infielder or line drive knocked down/deflected by an infielder) that would allow the pitcher more time to get into position behind the plate. However, if the ball was hit to the right side of the infield, his response would be to cover first, not back up home. If it was to the left side of the infield he could then back up the catcher–but probably would not have enough time to look comfortable. This stance is more typical of waiting for a runner who started at second or first.

    (3) Since it was a force at home the catcher would not be trying to tag out the runner and Montanez would most likely be trying to run through the base. Montanez is sliding as if trying to avoid a tag. It is unclear if the catcher (Fran Healy, blocked by the tush in question) was setting up for a tag or stretching to tag the base for a force out. His foot is not on the plate, so it makes me think he is setting up to take a throw and make a tag. Of course Montanez could be sliding at home for style points (i.e., not needed) or because the on deck batter (Greg Luzinski) whose tail can be seen on the left side of the card with his arms down (not emphatically so, but down in any event).

    (4) The bottom of the pitcher’s uniform number can be seen. It is definitely a two digit number. The first digit appears to be medium to wide at the bottom (2, 3, 5, possibly 6 or 8) while the second number looks to be medium-to narrow (0, 6 or 8, and possibly 1, 4, 7). McMahon was #47 in his entire SF stint (1969-74)–two narrow numbers. Jim Barr was #33 (two wide numbers). Steve Stone was both #33 and 35 in 1971 with SF (the date in question for him) (both double wides).

    (5) Length of undershirt sleeve. Both McMahon and Barr wore a 3/4 length sleeve undershirt. Stone’s was a little longer (almost full). The pitcher whose rump is in question was wearing an almost full length sleeve. However, McMahon’s shirt is from a 1972 card (1971 season)–and the sample size is small.

    Side note on Barry Lersch & Dick Selma cards. The umpire in the foreground of the Lersch card is either Lee Weyer (April 26) or Doug Harvey (July 16). Based on the hair (Harvey prematurely gray) & body size (Weyer-much larger) I would say it is Doug Harvey (whose fanny you can see) & thus the photo is probably from July 16. And because of the similarity of the photo the Selma card is probably from July 15. The batter vs righty Lersch-probably Al Gallagher (sans be-hind) and not Tito Fuentes-complexion or Ken Henderson-would be batting left–these were the only three batters he faced that game. The batter vs Selma? He went three innings: Right handed batter (sporting his posterior)-either Fran Healy or Chris Speier (not Damaso Blanco, Bobby Bonds, Garry Maddox, Tito Fuentes, Willie McCovey-complexion; Ken Henderson, Ed Goodson, Dave Rader-lefty).

    Whew–that went a lot longer than I originally intended–but couldn’t stop the flow of consciousness. Thanks for letting me pile on.

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  4. I would say it’s not McMahon. The lower edge of the Giants pitcher’s uniform number is juuuust visible at the top border of the card (you can enlarge it here: http://bit.ly/73montanez). According to Baseball-Reference, McMahon wore No. 47 with the Giants, and the visible part of the pitcher’s number looks too wide to be a 4 and a 7. But Jim Barr wore No. 33, which is much more likely the number on that pitcher’s back.

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  5. Great post, Tim, and a nice analysis by Brian Wood. I will add a few points to Brian’s comments–but first, the punchline: I think it is Jim Barr, #33, on Sunday, July 16, 1972.

    – The Phillies wore grayish-blue wool uniforms in 1971, switching to a bluer shade and double-knit polyester in 1972; if you look at a zoomed-in copy of the card (which you can find here: https://www.psacard.com/cardfacts/baseball-cards/1973-topps/willie-montanez-97/34710 ), the color looks definitely blue rather than grayish-blue, and the folds in the uniform look (IMHO) more like polyester than wool. Compare it to a 1972 In Action of Rick Wise or Deron Johnson to see the color difference. Based on that, I don’t think it is the 1971 game and so not Steve Stone.

    – The numbers on the back of the pitcher backing up the play (the derriere in question) look to me to be the same width when you look at a blow-up of the card, and both have slanted sides coming up from the bottoms, not at 90-degree angles from the bottom. If you look at a blow-up of the 1973 Topps Tito Fuentes, you can see that the 3 on a 1972 Giants jersey meets that but the 2 has a 90 degree angle on the bottom left. So I don’t think it is Stone, who was #29. And I definitely don’t think either number looks like the bottom of a 4 or a 7, which would rule out McMahon (#47). It does seem like it could be a #33.

    – The skin tone of the Phillie on the left matches that of Willie, so I would say it is more likely Oscar Gamble (who was on deck in the game with Barr pitching) than Greg Luzinski (who was on deck in the game with McMahon pitching). It also doesn’t match the skin tone of the pitcher (who is white no matter which game it is) or of the third baseman (also white, Al Gallagher, no matter which game it is). You can really see this on the blow-up of the card.

    – I also agree that the pitcher wouldn’t have made it to back up home and get in a set position that quickly if Montanez was scoring from third, and also that there would be some action at third in that case since a runner was going from second to there, both of which lead to it being Barr on the 16th, when Willie scored from second.

    Nice post, again. Keep these coming, Tim!

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    1. After careful review, I agree with steveinphilly. There is no play at third for Giants 3B (probably Gallagher) . The player in the foreground is probably Barr, leaving all of us “em-Barr-assed.”

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  6. First, this picture was not taken in 1971. The Phillies did not wear blue road uniforms that year.
    Second, the bottom of the player’s uniform is slightly visible as another commenter wrote. Jim Barr wore 33 that year, Don McMahon 47. Given the slight outline of the number in the picture, 33 is much more probably than 47. Thus, Jim Barr is the more likely choice.
    Third, the outfielder is likely Ken Henderson (box score could be use to check for this). Third baseman is likely Al Gallagher (ditto)
    Fourth and last: If there was ever a player who would slide without warrant into home just for style/hot dog points, it would be Willie Montanez. Not likely he did this, but there’s always that 1% chance. Willie was a style hound who never missed a chance to put some mustard on the hot dog!

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