Thursday, February 16, 2012

#334 - All Star Third Basemen

For the All-Star third basemen, Topps uses photographs taken at their go-to stadiums - at least in this set. Brooks Robinson is at Yankee Stadium and Ron Santo at Candlestick in a photo that looks a bit more current than his regular card one did. Brooks looks a little out of whack, like he just left a Bronx barfight. But I do love that cartoon oriole on his cap. Brooks was a perennial All-Star back then as was Ron but the latter guy really is the only one of the two whose stats were appropriate for starting status. That's a good lead-in to check on those now. We start with Brooks and his AL buddies:

Brooks Robinson - .228 with 7 homers and 37 RBI's
Dave Nelson - .287 with 4 homers and 31 RBI's
Sal Bando - .265 with 18 homers and 54 RBI's
Buddy Bell - .274 with 5 homers and 34 RBI's.

Almost half the AL is represented here. Based on stats alone at this point in the season, both Graig Nettles and Bill Melton were more deserving but Graig was still trying to live down his Indian past and Bill always got dissed by voters and managers. Brooks had an admittedly tough season and is a legacy guy. Both Nelson and Bell - the sole Indian All-Star - were hitting close to .300 when chosen. Dave's other stats are a bit light but that year he was pushing for starting time at third against five other guys. Buddy's seem light too until you realize he had already nearly matched his RBI totals for all of '72. Sal was the big banger in the group. He, like Brooks, was another All-Star regular. Now for the NL:

Ron Santo - .298 with 11 homers and 50 RBI's
Darrell Evans - .271 with 27 homers and 67 RBI's
Joe Torre - .298 with 9 homers and 45 RBI's.

So Ron, also well above .300 when selected, has deserving All-Star stats. Darrell, like his infield teammate Davey Johnson, was banging the ball at a big clip that year. And Joe was already listed at first but since he played both positions I threw him in again. I think the NL clearly has the edge here. Like both catcher and second base, the starters are now all Hall of Famers. In fact the only guy on these card fronts so far NOT in the Hall is Dick Allen.

Another puzzle piece. They should have made this the second piece to keep people guessing, although I guess anyone that read a newspaper back then would have known who the subject was. We DO know it's a right-hander from this section.

In music on this date in '74 "The Way We Were" returned to the top spot in the US.

The big compelling national story in '73 and '74 - outside of inflation - was Watergate. In addition to the occasional music news I thought it would be relevant to highlight some of the important dates regarding the back story and actual events from back then. The set-up starts in '71:

6/13/71 - The New York Times began serializing a group of documents it called The Pentagon Papers. These were Defense Department Documents regarding covert and other actions during the Viet Nam War that were leaked by a department analyst named Daniel Ellsberg.

9/9/71 - A DC-area psychiatrist's office is burglarized. One of the psychiatrist's patients is Daniel Ellsberg and it is thought then that information was being sought in the burglary to discredit Mr. Ellsberg. Months later it turns out the group responsible for the burglary is employed by the White House and will be named "The Plumbers" by the media for their orders to fix media leaks that could discourage President Nixon's re-election. While the discrediting strategy would not prove terribly effective with Mr. Ellsberg it would prove so months later with a man named Thomas Eagleton who was originally George McGovern's VP candidate but had to step down after it was revealed he had been subject to electric shock therapy as a psychological treatment in his younger days. It would prove to be a big blow to the McGovern campaign.

5/28/72 - Bugging equipment was installed in the Democratic National Committee ("DNC") headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. The headquarters took up the whole sixth floor of the hotel. It would later turn out the equipment was installed by essentially the same group that burglarized the office of Ellsberg's shrink.

6/17/72 - Five burglars were arrested at 2:30 am during a break-in at the Watergate DNC headquarters. A security guard called the police after he noticed that tape he had taken off a stair doorway had been replaced to prevent the door from locking. The police then basically just followed the taped doors up to the sixth floor which was the last one taped and the burglars gave themselves up. They were caught with bugging equipment, pen-sized stun guns (?!!), and $2,300 in sequential $100 bills. The burglar's names were Edward Martin, Frank Sturgis, Bernard Barker, Eugenio Martinez, and Virgilio Gonzalez. Barker, Martinez, and Gonzalez were all native Cubans who had been involved in the Bay of Pigs fiasco early in the JFK presidency. Sturgis was a former WW II vet who was a leader of that operation. The most interesting guy was Martin. His real name was James McCord and he was an ex-CIA agent who was presently employed as security director for a group known as CREEP (Committee to RE-Elect the President).

More tomorrow.

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