1976 Topps #441 Gary Carter

There are nearly to six decades of Topps All-Star Rookie Cup awards which means there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 cards in the history of the subset.

This raises the question why among all these cards does Gary Carter get the honor of his own posting on the SABR Baseball Card Blog. Well there are many reasons, but lets start with he is a Hall of Famer and…..well, I enjoy over-analyzing cards.

Over-Analysis Part 1: the Card

1976 Topps #441 Gary Carter

We have a fine photo of young Gary Carter in a classic baseball card pose. The distinctive characteristic of 1976 Topps is the position illustration seen here on the bottom left. It is a nice accent to the sets otherwise minimalist approach. On the cards other lower corner we find the reason we are here, the All-Star Rookie Cup icon. This is the second iteration of the cup, just a cup, no top hat and no batter atop that hat.

As we look a little closer the card there are a few other things I found interesting.

2) Game Dated Card?

Yes I think we have enough info here to give a time & place for this photo.

Fortunately for us the Expos wore their numbers on the front of their uniform in this era. Notice that Carter is not wearing the familiar #8, which he donned for most of his career and was later retired by the Expos/Nationals. According to Baseball-Ref for a brief period as a September call up in 1974 Gary Carter wore #57 – which looks to be the number we have here. Looking at the background on the photo it appears we are at Wrigley Field.

Turning to Carter’s 1974 Game Logs we find that he played three games across two days in Chicago. There first was the latter game of a double header on September 24th which the Expos won 11-2. The following day featured yet another double header which the Expos swept 7-1, 3-2. There is plenty of fascinating things to find in those boxes but for our limited time and space it is most important that we note that our hero went 4 for 11 with a triple and 3 RBIs in the three victories. In the last game Carter made one of his 132 appearances in Right Field (who knew). Across both double headers the 90+ Loss 1974 Cubs would draw less than 5000 fans COMBINED.

I have one dilemma with the game dating. The field is set up for batting practice. I can’t imagine the Expos had BP on the day of a double header. Perhaps these pictures are from Monday September 23 prior to a postponed game that lead to the consecutive double headers. Regardless the evidence points to one of three dates for the Photo September 23, 24 or 25 of 1974.

3) The Trophy

By Trophy I mean the real trophy not the icon on the card

Yep thanks to Heritage Auctions we have an image of a real life Topps All-Star Rookie Cup Trophy. To me this is a big deal outside of Carter’s trophy, I have only seen images of a few others Dick Allen, Tony Oliva, and Tommy Harper. Never seen one in the wild.

The Gary Carter Cup sold in November of 2016 for just under $1,800. According to the Heritage Auction website the owner of the trophy is entertaining offers for the trophy.

3b) But wait there is another Trophy!!

Topps also gives out a AAA version of the award.

And in 1974 Gary Carter won that award as well.

4) Flip

No over-analysis of a card is complete without flipping the card over.

Check the cartoon here which discusses the defense of the 1964 Orioles. Apparently this is a positive superlative. I was to lazy to confirm that the 95 errors was a record for fewest by at team (at the time), However I will note that in 1964 the second best team was the Yankees who committed 109.

This leads us to a brief point about baseball changing. In 2018 the MLB average for errors for a team was 93. That is 2 miscues less than the number that Orioles led the league with in 1964. The league average was 142 in 1964.

5) Gary Carter the collector

Finally one of my favorite fun facts about Gary Carter is he was also a card collector. As fans we learned this from a different card:

Check out the latter cartoon. I am thinking of putting this in the banner to my Twitter Feed.

If you don’t believe Topps we also have this photographic evidence.

Check out all those binders!!

And yes He is holding the card that is the subject of our posting:

Gary Carter will always be the Kid.

Sources and Links

Baseball-Ref

Heritage Auctions

Getty Images

Phungo 1976 Topps All-Star Rookie Cup index

Phungo Gary Carter Index

The Topps Archive

Topps 1963 All-Star Rookie Cup Team: Part 3 – the Banquet

Ok I lied.

This was to be the final installment in our three part series covering the 1963 Topps All-Star Rookie Team.  Well you know how movie companies break up the final film of blockbuster trilogies into two parts so they can bring in more coin, well that is happening here – minus the money.

Yes this was to be the final installment of my 1963 Topps Rookie All-Star (TRAS) series, but I had to much for one post so I am breaking the banquet into two parts. Okay enough prologue, onward…

The 1963 Topps All-Star Rookie Banquet

I don’t know this for a fact but I am guessing that today’s players don’t even know if they make the Topps All-Star Rookie team.

Things were different in 1963, During the early years of the Topps Rookie All-Star team the winners were rewarded with a trip to New York City for a trophy presentation at the Waldorf Astoria!

November 9, 1963 article by Carl Lundquist in The Sporting News chronicled the event. Tommy Harper was among the nine Rookie All-Stars that attended the banquet and there are pictures to prove it. Of course the pictures are likely only out there on the interwebs because Harper’s teammate happened to be the NL Rookie of the Year and would go on to become quite infamous…

Tommy Harper and Pete Rose at the Topps Rookie All-Star Banquet (1963 OCT 24)

Check out Tommy & Pete and look in front of them, those are the Topps Rookie All-Star trophies. Before I got interested in the TRAS I didn’t realize that there was a real trophy involved. And hey the icon featured on the cards looks like the trophy. Except that I never realized that the trophy includes a top hat for some reason. There appears to be a larger version of the trophy behind Harper and Rose’s hands. I imagine that is either there as a Topps centerpiece or to honor Pete Rose as NL Rookie of the Year. The hat on that trophy looks like it would big enough for Pete to wear. I am guessing that the two were photographed together since they were Reds teammates at the time.

The rest of the All-Stars can be seen here.

1963 Topps Rookie All-Stars (1963 OCT 24)

Front Row (L->R): Billy Cowan (minor league player of the year), Jimmie Hall, Pete Rose,  Jesse Gonder, Tommy Harper. Back row (L->R): Rusty Staub, Gary Peters, Ray Culp, Vic Davalillo. Not pictured Al Weis.

1963 was the fifth time Topps held TRAS banquet. The event was held on Thursday October 24th 1963 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. There also happened to be another noteworthy baseball event that happened that day in NYC:

1964 Topps #21 Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra got hired as Manager of the New York Yankees. The Yankees made the official announcement at the Savoy Hilton on the South East corner of Central Park. Immediately following the press conference Yogi trekked across the park to the Waldorf and appeared at the Topps Rookie All-Star banquet as a surprise guest.

His remarks included:

“The greatest thrill of my life happened today when I was named manager of the great New York Yankees.”

It would take less than a year for that statement to turn from Bold to Sad as Yogi would be relieved as manager despite leading the Yankees to an AL pennant and pushing Bob Gibson and the Cardinals to 7 games in the World Series.

Other luminaries that attended the banquet were Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg and Frankie Frisch, Topps executives Sy Berger and Joel J. Shorin, and organized baseball representatives such as Frank Shaughnessy, Ed Short, Joe McKenney, and Dave Grote.

Baseball Ambassador Joe Garagiola served as emcee for the event.

In addition to the honoring the Rookie All-Stars, Topps also bestowed the Minor League Player of the Year award to Billy Cowan (Salt Lake City Bees / Cubs). Elston Howard was designated a “Most Value Fellow” by Topps who gave the Yankees catcher and 1963 AL MVP a giant trading card. The card contained the caption “Nice Guys Finish First.”

This is Tommy Harper’s first solo card, he appears on a 4-up in 1963 Topps falling at #158. Solid representation of the 1964 Topps Set, this appears to be a shot taken at Spring Training.  If I was going to complain I would mention that the nameplate at the bottom of the card cuts off Harper’s glove. Otherwise a decent shot, featuring Tommy Harper in the great sleeveless Reds Jersey of the era.

Flip

1964 Topps #330 Tommy Harper (b-side)

The back copy mentions Harper’s TRAS selection along with his minor league run scoring crowns. There is also a general trivia question: Who was the Twins HR King the previous season?  It is exactly who you think it is, Harmon Killebrew who had 45 Homers in 1963. In fact Killebrew has the top 6 Home Run hitting seasons for the Twins and is also tied for 7th: 42 in 1959 (Senators) with Roy Sievers (1957 also Sens) and current Twin Brian Dozier (2016)

1963 Topps Rookie All-Stars

As mentioned this is part 3 of our short series on the 1963 Topps Rookie All-Star team. To see the remainder of the series click the links below:

Part 1: The Cards (Rusty Staub)

Part 2: The Voting (Jesse Gonder w/ Phantom Trophy)

Sources Links

Phungo 1963 Topps Rookie Cup Index

The Sporting News 1963 Nov 9 (Carl Lundquist) and other issues.

The Topps Archive

Baseball Card Database

Getty Images

Baseball-reference

Topps 1963 All-Star Rookie Cup Team: Part 2 – the Voting

Today in the second installment in our three part series dedicated to the 1962 Topps Rookie Cup All-Star team we are going to take a look at the voting process. For more on the team check out Part 1.

The Topps All-Star Rookie team has been selected a number of different ways over the years. Originally they were selected via a vote by “the Youth of America” . I am not positive but I believe currently Topps has MLB Managers vote on the squad.

In 1962 that responsibility of picking the team was the belonged to a fairly complete roster of the players coaches and managers of Major League Baseball. Thanks to the Sporting News we have a record of that vote.

1964 Topps #457 Jesse Gonder

1964 Topps #457 Jesse Gonder

We will get to Jesse Gonder in a minute, for now I will just mention that he did not lead the voting, nor did NL Rookie of the Year Pete Rose.

According to an article published in The Sporting News (1963 Sep 21) There were 563 players, coaches, and managers involved in the voting. During the 1963 season there were 20 MLB teams, this means that an average of more than 28 people voted for each team.

On September 15th 1962 Topps Sports Director Sy Berger announced the All-Star Rookie Team and the overall vote winner was…..

White Sox Pitcher Gary Peters who received 522 of those 563 votes or 93%.

A solid selection, Peters was Rose’s AL ROY counterpart. The rest of the voting went as follows:

1964 All-Star rCup Voting

I broke the Rookie All-Stars into two groups, Position Players and Pitchers just to make the the MLB Stat columns a little clearer. Both tables are sorted by the Number of votes received in the All-Star Rookie tally.

The hitters break down into two groups the first 5 that all received at least 2/3 of the vote. The final 3 players were more contested and all finished at 50% or less.  Both pitchers won their positions easily. It appears the “eye test” worked in 1963, The five hitters chosen had WAR numbers of +2.0 or better while the final 3 were all +1.0 or below. One cannot question the selection of Gary Peters and his +7.0 WAR.

Jesse Gonder

We chose Jesse Gonder as cover card for a couple of reasons. To start off Catcher was the most contested position of the voting:

Jesse Gonder Catchers

Nice to see Twitter favorite @JohnnyBateman7 on the board. As we can see Freehan won the WAR however in 1963 that was obviously not known. Gonder won the vote, likely due to his .304 batting average. Of course voting for him meant ignoring the fact that he had less than half of the plate appearances of either Freehan or Bateman.

The second reason we decided to focus on Jesse Gonder is his card. Take a look, notice anything odd for a rookie cup card? Yep, no Rookie Cup. Not sure why it happened but the Trophy icon was missed on Jesse Gonder’s 1964 Topps card. Of the Ten cards in the All-Star Rookie subset it is the highest numbered, one of two on the series 6 checklist which runs from from 430-506. Perhaps by the time Topps got to their penultimate series the quality control had slipped a tad.

Pete Rose

I would like to close by discussing Pete Rose who won second base but did not garner as many votes as either Gary Peters or Vic Davalillo.

Pete Rose 2nd Base

This may be due to the fact that Pete Rose likely had competition from HBP specialist Ron Hunt. TSN did not publish the Topps voting results for all the positions, it is notable that the only player to garner Rookie of the Year votes yet not receive an All-Star Rookie Cup was Hunt.

I am a little stunned how much better Rose did in the ROY vote considering how similar his and Hunt’s numbers were in 1963. Apparently Hustle counts.

Once again I will mention if you want to read a fine article on the 1963 Topps Pete Rose card check with Wax Pack Gods.

Sources and Links

The Sporting News (1963 various issues)

Baseball-ref

Baseball Card Database

Cardboard Connection

Phungo 1963 Topps Rookie Cup Index

Wax Pack Gods