Tuesday, December 31, 2019

1981 Topps Record Breaker: Johnny Bench

The front: The off-kilter angle adds an element of excitement to the photo. Bench played in one day game at Shea in 1980 – Sunday, July 27, meaning that we have two cards in a row from the same game. Bench was 1-for-5 with 2 RBI. The on deck hitter would be Dave Concepcion.

The back: Bench and Berra have since been passed by Carlton Fisk (351 HR) and Mike Piazza (396 HR). No one else has hit 300 home runs while being a catcher (does not count home runs at other positions like OF or DH). No one else is close either – the active leader is Russell Martin with 191.

Monday, December 30, 2019

1981 Topps George Foster

The front: Nice wide-angle shot at Shea Stadium. Foster played in two day games at Shea in 1980. On July 26 he hit in front of Dan Driessen, who is African-American, and on July 27 he hit in front of Harry Spilman, who is white. So this must be the 27th, when Foster was 2 for 5 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs, one of those runs coming on an eight-inning homer by Spilman.

The back: Some big power numbers indicate why Foster got the “hero number” of 200.

The player: From 1975 to 1981, Foster was one of the most feared power hitters in the game, hitting 221 home runs in those seven seasons, including 52 home runs in 1977 at a time when topping 50 home runs was extremely rare. He led the NL in RBIs three straight seasons from 1976 to 1978. The Mets acquired Foster before the 1982 season expecting him to continue his power hitting ways, but his average and power both tailed off significantly as soon as he got to Queens, and he is known as an all-time bust for the Mets. Overall, in 1,977 major league games, he hit .274 with 348 HR and 1,239 RBI.

The man: Foster is very active today working with youth as a baseball instructor and motivational speaker.

My collection: I have 32 of his cards, from 1972 to 1986. I would be interested in trading for 1971 Topps #276 and 1973 Topps #399.