It’s our next team card! Normally these things mean lengthy multi-day write-ups but not this time. I am guessing this photo is taken in the Jarry Park/ Parc Jarry outfield since there are no leaves yet on the trees. It’s a pretty blurry photo but I recognize lots of guys. This team was the best Montreal one to date. It used an NL-leading OBA – Ken Singleton, Ron Hunt, and Ron Fairly all had ones exceeding .400 – to stay in contention pretty much all season. There were some pitching disappointments (Bill Stoneman, Mike Torrez) but also happy surprises (Steve Renko and rookie Steve Rogers) along with ace reliever Mike Marshall that helped them get to within half a game of first in mid-September. But a seven-game skid took them out of the running and they finished 79-83, only three back. It would be their best finish until Gary Carter and the young outfield took them to the playoffs early the next decade.
The checklist card front is nothing special. Lots of pitchers and no HOF guys. Just because I need some filler, I thought on this post I could revisit an observation made on another team checklist post. Which team had the most HOF guys on its checklist card? The answer may be a bit of a surprise: Boston had four with Luis Aparicio, Orlando Cepeda, Carlton Fisk, and Carl Yastrzemski. Oakland and Cincinnati each have three: Oakland's are Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, and Rollie Fingers; Cincy has Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez. A bunch of teams have two with probably San Diego (Willie McCovey and Dave Winfield) being the biggest surprise. Philadelphia should have two but Mike Schmidt doesn’t make the signature list. In another surprise – though maybe not if you were a fan back then – the Yankees get shut out. Looking at the next post subject - a future Blue Jay - I was wondering who was the first guy to play for both Canadian franchises. There were no former Expos taken by Toronto in the expansion draft, but two guys were traded to them before the season began: outfielder/first baseman Ron Fairly, and infielder Hector Torres, who was with Montreal in '72. Fairly came over in February '77 and Torres in March so I guess Fairly is the answer. Does this look like filler? It is and I'm done.
So the reason for the short post becomes apparent with a read of the card back. Every team record holder for the Expos has a card in this set. Even Rusty Staub, who ended his multi-year Topps hiatus with a Mets card this year.
It’s time to see how Topps does representing the ’73 Expos with the ’74 set. Pretty well as only role players are missing. On the player side outfielder Clyde Mashore (.204 with 14 RBI’s in 103 at bats) misses his last season; catcher Terry Humphrey (.167 with nine RBI’s in 90 at bats) lost his starting spot; outfielder Pepe Mangual (.177 with three homers and seven RBI’s in 62 at bats) would have a rookie card in ’75; outfielder Jorge Roque (.148 in 61 at bats) failed again in a call-up; and infielder Bernie Allen (.180 with two homers and nine RBI’s in 50 at bats) closed out his career. On the pitching side Pat Jarvis, a former big winner with Atlanta, went 2-1 with 3.20 ERA before he moved on to be a sheriff (must have been an Expos thing – see Hal Breeden); Joe Gilbert went 1-2 with a save and a 4.97 ERA in his second and last try up top; Mickey Scott went 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA before he hit the minors and then returned for a pretty good mid-decade run with the Angels; and John Strohmayer went 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA before he was taken off waivers by the Mets mid-year (he has a real interesting Wiki page). So Topps relieves us of about 350 sub-Mendoza at bats and about 40 RBI’s. On the pitching side we lose ten decisions and a save. I guess that’s about the middle. On the team card Strohmayer. Roque, Gilbert, and Mangual are the fifth through eighth guys in the second row, and Humphrey is the third guy from the right in the last row.
This is easier than I thought it would be:
1. Ron Hunt was on the ’73 Expos;
2. Hunt and Ed Kranepool ’63 to ’66 Mets;
3. Kranepool and Larry Stahl ’67 to ’68 Mets.