There is a regular customer at my shows who loves to discuss the cards from the 1960s and near the end of the day we’ll often chat for 20-30 minutes about the cards and the trivia from that era. Recently we discussed players who either had short and really bad stint with a team or never even played in a regular season game but are still pictured on a card for that team.
We’ll begin with the 1962 Topps Robin Roberts. Roberts appeared to be nearing the end of the line after a terrible 1961 season in which he went 1-10 for a Phillies team that went through a 23 game losing streak that year. The Yankees picked him up in the off-season and Topps apparently figured he was a lock to make their roster, giving him card #243.
Well, Roberts was cut at the end of spring training but as it turned out he did have a decent career finishing kick with three and a half nice seasons for the Baltimore Orioles before ending back in the NL with the Astros and the Cubs. New York got none of that but team collectors still need good ol’ Robin for their 1962 Yankees set.
In 1964, Gene Conley, who had been a decent pitcher for the Braves and Red Sox was shown as a Cleveland Indian on card #571. Conley might be the only person to win both an NBA and a World Series (and even took off on an impromptu trip to Israel with Pumpsie Green after they left the Red Sox team bus). Conley had been acquired by the Indians as a low-cost free agent. He pitched in two minor league games , then realized he was through so we have a high number card of Conley as a member of a team he never pitched for.
In 1965, in one of the first trades between the city rivals, the Yankees picked up Duke Carmel from the Mets and hoped to plug him into their outfield. Topps put him on card #261. There is a brief mention in Ball Four about Duke and his struggles to hit that year. Well his regular season record shows six games played, eight at bats and no hits or walks. He never got on base with the Yankees and that Yankee cameo would conclude Duke’s major league career. I think the safest thing we can say is he was certainly no Duke Snider.
The following year, there is a very difficult high number short print card of Lou Klimchock, Lou has done good work since his playing career ended and is one of the head honchos for the Major League Alumni Association. However, except for a brief stint during the 1969 season, Lou was always challenged as a batter. And while Mets collectors just know how tough his 1966 card was (you’ll spend at least $20 for a decent one if you can find it), they wish he had done more at the plate for them that season. He batted five times as a pinch-hitter and went 0-5 with three strikeouts and a grounded into double plays.
We will conclude our tour with the 1974 Topps Traded Felipe Alou card, which pictures him as a member of the Brewers thanks to the work of a Topps graphic artist who airbrushed his cap into a blue and gold Milwaukee model. Indeed, they had acquired him during the off-season and hoped some of the recent Alou magic which had helped the A’s to two straight World Series titles would lead them to their first winning season. It didn’t work out that way. Felipe went hitless in three at-bats and a career that began in Milwaukee during the late 1950s was over. But at least he got one final card.