1971 Strat-O-Matic Baseball

About 4 years ago I started to replay the San Francisco Giants 1971 baseball season using my old Strat-O-Matic (SOM) baseball game. I play SOM baseball using the original cards and dice that came with the game. My parents bought me SOM when I was a 12 years old. That was 40 years ago! I still have my SOM football and basketball games too. Yes, I was one of the lucky ones. My Mom did not throw out my old baseball cards and games! Anyway, I recently decided to continue where I left off with my Giants 1971 season replay. Back in 2007 I kept score of every game and recorded the Giants hitting and pitching stats, as well as the NL team win/loss records. I played the Giants season schedule up to May 10th, 1971. Here are the current NL standings for my replay. After 32 games the Giants are 21-11 in my simulation. Retrosheet.org shows the Giants were 23-9 after 32 games in 1971. So I’m currently 2 games behind in my simulation. But no problem. I have Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Bobby Bonds on my team! I just need to manage a little better 🙂 NOTE: My simulation standings don’t match Retrosheet’s NL standings because I account for all NL games that differed in outcome during my simulation. So if the game outcome differs for any of my Giants simulation games, then my standings will reflect those differences from the real season NL standings of 1971. As a consequence, my Giants replay can effect the final standings in the NL! Of course it’s only a game 🙂 The big challenge with playing SOM with the cards and dice is the time it takes me to score each game and then record the stats on my computer. I’m sure the computer version of the SOM baseball game is much faster, but I really enjoy playing the game with the original cards and dice. It brings back a lot of memories! I also still have the APBA baseball game my parents purchased for me in 1972. It includes the 1972 and 1973 playing cards. I enjoyed playing APBA when I was younger but it never seemed to have the same realism as my SOM baseball game. I should mention that when I play SOM baseball I play the advanced version. 1971 was the first year that SOM added the advanced version of the game to the backs of the player cards. That created a lot more strategy situations to the game which makes it seem more like a real baseball game, in my opinion. The SOM baseball game was created in 1961. The original SOM player cards and team sets are getting harder to find, particularly in nice condition. Also, SOM issued 4 extra players per team each year that you could purchase beyond the 20 players per team you received when you bought the game. The original extra player cards are even more scarce. You can often find the original SOM player cards on eBay. Also, SOM still exists and you can purchase the player cards directly from them! Many of my SOM cards are beat up. Particularly the SF Giants cards. But I don’t care. I like holding those old cards in my hand! By the way, in case you are missing a player or two from your 1971 SOM season I have a few duplicate SOM cards for sale in my e-store. Or, if you happen to have an original 1971 Ike Brown SOM card of the Detroit Tigers (one of the extra cards that year), I would be willing to trade one of my extra cards for Ike! Finally, if you have already replayed the 1971 SOM season, or are currently doing so, please let me know. Thanks!

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The Who: Live at the London Coliseum 1969

I was trolling YouTube last weekend when I stumbled on to parts of The Who video “Live at the London Coliseum 1969”. This was the first time I’d seen clips of this gig, and I was impressed. Enough so that I ended up purchasing the DVD from Amazon. Interestingly, the DVD is being marketed as “The Who At Kilburn: 1977” but the 1969 London Coliseum gig is included. And…for some reason the entire live 1969 Coliseum Tommy performance was put in the Extra’s menu of the DVD. Probably because a small part of the Tommy performance had some audio recording issues (minor damage to a section of film I imagine, but not enough to detract from the performance, in my opinion). Also, the 1969 Coliseum performance was recorded on 16mm film (as opposed to 35mm like the Kilburn gig). But I still think the 1969 Coliseum gig far outshines the Kilburn gig. At any rate I am thankful that the 1969 Coliseum gig was captured on film and included with the Kilburn footage! My understanding is the 16mm film of this 1969 Coliseum performance was rescued from the dumpster of The Who’s manager, Kit Lambert, after The Who switched management in the mid 1970’s. So, thanks to whoever made the rescue and had the foresight to put this rare glimpse of The Who on to DVD! I had been searching for early Who live concert footage for years, particularly anything with most or all of the Tommy or Quadrophenia operas (I have yet to find any good live film of The Who performing Quadrophenia from the early/mid 1970’s, when it was first written). I believe the 1969 Coliseum performance is better than the 1970 Isle of Wight gig, although I’ve heard the remix of the Isle gig is pretty impressive. However, I think The Who were kinda’ sloppy at the Isle gig and they were REALLY sloppy at Woodstock even Pete Townshend agrees 🙂 Not that I’m complaining about The Who as a band. I think they were the best LIVE rock band ever. But they did have their sloppy moments (whether it was the booze or drugs…or anything else…I guess it doesn’t really matter) as The Who played with more energy than any band before or since! By the way, the 1977 Kilburn gig was supposedly the last live performance that The Who drummer Keith Moon played. He died a few months later. The Kilburn gig is OK, but it’s clear that Pete Townshend is not happy with the performance (and with HIS performance in particular…he even mentions this during the gig). When I watch Pete and the rest of the band play the Kilburn gig I sense they were not ready or really wanting to perform, thus it was like they were just going through the motions. Anyway, the 1969 Coliseum performance is the best live Who performance I’ve seen yet. It captures them at a fairly early stage in their career and they are pretty tight when performing Tommy. If you are a guitar player like me, I think you will enjoy it too. Like most rock bands, I prefer their early recordings and performances. I think later, once bands and musicians start to get rich they get lazy and run out of good material (compositions) and they also lose a lot of their raw “gotta’ make it or we’ll flop” energy. The Beatles might be one exception to that belief 🙂

Music And The Beatles As I Was Growing Up

If I was forced to choose one band or composer whose music that I could only listen to for the rest of my life, i.e., I could not listen to any other band or composers music except that one, I would choose the music of The Beatles. And it would not be a difficult decision for me. Maybe I would choose Miles Davis, but his album “Kind of Blue” would probably be the only album I could listen to over and over again (“Kind of Blue” may me the best album ever recorded). And maybe Mozart would be a good choice since he was very prolific as well, and there would be a wealth of music to choose from. However, so far in realm of my music listening life (and I am 52 years old) the only music that I seem to be able to listen to and tolerate over a long period of time is the music of The Beatles. Of course much of this preference may be tempered by my having grown up during mid 1960’s through the early 1970’s (ages 7-13 may have been my most formative years, although others may disagree 🙂 Now I’m sure my choice of The Beatles is not big news to many musicians and music lovers around the world as The Beatles are quite well known for their innovation, composition, musicianship and style. But it has always amazed me that I can continue to listen to the music of The Beatles without ever growing tired of it. Maybe that will change one day, but I have been listening to The Beatles music for well over 40 years!

I was born into a musical family. My father is an accomplished jazz pianist, and my mother a wonderful singer. And I have many other family members who are, or were, musically talented. I have vivid memories of going to my Dad’s jazz band rehearsals in downtown San Francisco during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Besides my Dad, there were many other great jazz musicians at those rehearsals. I particularly was enamored by the drummers. I think if I had it to do over again I would have started playing drums when I was young, instead of guitar. I still love to listen to and watch great drummers like Bill Bruford (early Yes), Terry Bozzio (with Frank Zappa and Missing Persons) and the many great jazz drummers I had the pleasure of seeing perform during my Dad’s rehearsals. And I had some interesting (eye-opening) experiences while accompanying my Dad to some of his rehearsals. I remember one day in particular. My Dad was driving us slowly through the crowded downtown streets of SF on a Saturday. I remember looking out the window of our car and seeing a man slumped against a crumbled wall next to a huge skyscraper. He was clutching a brown paper bag in one hand while his other hand lay limp on the ground beside him. He looked like he had been left for dead, leaning against that building. But as people rapidly walked around him he would occasionally flinch and then again drift off into his slumber, or stuper. Watching that old man and the hustle and bustle of the big city of SF from within the safety of my Dad’s car left quite an impression on me. Later that day, during a rehearsal break, my Dad took me to a 5 & 10 store on a nearby street corner. My Dad wanted a paper (the SF Chronicle) and I wanted something to eat and drink…and some baseball cards! Sure enough, that 5 & 10 store had a rack of bubble-gum cards and my Dad bought me a couple packs. And I remember pulling a Willie Mays or some other SF Giant star from one of those packs! It’s interesting, I seem to remember that whenever I bought baseball cards from places other than the store near my house I always seemed to pull baseball cards that I really needed or wanted. Yet when I purchased cards from my local store I would get the same old players 🙂 On the walk back to my Dad’s rehearsal, a bedraggled man with thick whiskers hustled his way in front of me and my Dad and asked my Dad if he had any change to spare. I honestly don’t remember if my Dad gave that man any money, but I do remember feeling a bit scared of that old man. Life in the big city was definitely different than in the suburbs.

Occasionally my Dad would have rehearsals in the basement of our house in SF. These were small group jazz rehearsals that were more intimate than the rehearsals in downtown SF. For me to be able to watch, up-close, a talented drummer demonstrate his mastery of a drum kit, with sticks AND brushes, was mesmerizing! I still remember one drummer who had a funny habit of squeezing his eyes shut with his mouth open as he played. You could tell that he really enjoyed his work 🙂

So jazz has been a big part of my music listening life since the day I was born, and although I really like jazz (and still do!) sometime around 1965 I began exploring and listening to other genres of music, on my own. I remember Motown was big during this period (on the SF air waves) and I used to listen to soul, r&b, and rock-n-roll on my little transistor radio. And it was about this time that I first heard The Beatles. “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Help!” were the first two Beatles songs I remember hearing on the radio. In fact, at some point around this time my Mom and Dad bought me the “Hard Days Night” (HDN) album. It was my first Beatles album! I remember listening to that album constantly on my tiny Sears portable record player. However, I was always frustrated that Capital records decided to include the HDN movie instrumental music on that album, in between all those great Beatles songs (Capital did the same thing on the Help! album). Sad story about my HDN album. Years later when I was living in Miami I loaned my prized Beatles HDN album to my sisters boy friend (against my better judgement). In return he loaned me something like Peter Frampton, I think. About a month or two later my sister broke-up with her boy friend, AND, he ended up moving sometime after that. Thus my first Beatles album is forever
gone 😦 The other Beatles album my Mom and Dad bought me while we lived in SF was Abbey Road (which unfortunately was The Beatles last album). I listened to Abbey Road so much that years later I had to replace it since I ruined it by playing it on my old Sears record player without ever changing the record player needle 🙂 By the time I was 17 years old I had purchased every Beatles album I could find, including many imports (I used to work in a record store in Miami during the 1970’s, so that helped a lot!).

So here is why I like The Beatles music so much. I believe John Lennon and Paul McCartney were the best duo song writers ever (bar none). Their ability to compose great music and lyrics, seemingly with ease, is astounding to me! I suspect it was the combination of god given talent as well as hard work (John and Paul began composing together at a very early age) that made their songs so great. Whatever the reasons, their compositions are very moving. The guitar and vocal work of The Beatles is another reason I admire their music so much. John, Paul and George were all great guitar players and liked to experiment with guitar sounds. All the Beatles studio recordings with the variations of acoustic guitar tracks and electric guitar tracks (including the bass guitar) are a wonderland for any musician and guitarist, like me. There is so much to hear! Then there are the great vocals. John, Paul and George were also great vocalists. It seems very rare to find three great vocalists in any band, particularly these days. Thus, the combination of great composition, accomplished musicianship and skillful singing, and that is why I think I can go on listening to the The Beatles music for another 50 years 🙂 I have yet to hear a band before or after The Beatles whose music I can listen to constantly without at some point getting bored. I can listen to, and re-visit The Beatles music anytime.

I’ll end by saying that much has been written about The Beatles and John Lennon and Paul McCartney and their music. So there is not much need for me to write any more. But The Beatles music had a significant impact on my life both as a musician and a person. It was their music that inspired me to play the guitar. And coincidentally, about the time I started to play guitar and take more interest in music was also the same time I started to leave the innocence of my childhood behind. So music in general, and The Beatles in particular were somewhat of a bridge for me to go from childhood to adolescence. Although, there are some people, I suspect, that feel that I still act like a child, and some others that believe I still behave like an adolescent. But sometimes that can be a good thing 🙂

Reflections Of Growing Up In SF

I just watched the movie “Big“, again, for about the 10th time. I love the story and Tom Hanks does a great job of acting like a kid in the movie, which is not too hard for Hanks to do 🙂 Basically “Big” is the story about a boy (Josh) who has almost reached adolescence and is beginning to discover girls, but is still clinging on to being a kid. Baseball is a big part of his life and there are scenes in the movie where Josh and his buddy Billy are playing baseball and buying baseball cards, which is one of the reasons I think can relate to the story so much. In fact, in one scene Josh and Billy are looking through packs of baseball cards they just bought and as they look at each card they say “got it, got it, got it”. That was a very familiar experience for me too while I was growing up 🙂 One night after a humiliating encounter with a girl from his school, while at an amusement park, Josh makes a wish to a “Zoltar” wish machine to be “big”. The next morning Josh wakes up (as Tom Hanks) and his wish has come true. Then the fun begins as Josh deals with being a kid inside an adult body. Lots of great humor from Tom Hanks with many true to life “growing up” situations mixed nicely into this well written script.

Watching this film always reminds me of my childhood and growing up in San Francisco. The good old days of collecting baseball cards and hanging out in my neighborhood with all my friends. And just learning about growing up. They say you never forget your first “crush”. For me it was a girl named Danielle. Danielle lived across the street and was a year older than me, and a friend of my sister. I still remember the first time I laid eyes on Danielle (she was beautiful). Some friends and I were playing tag in my front yard. Danielle and my sister walked over and asked if they could play. I took one look at Danielle and I got all warm inside. Before I could say anything someone else said “sure, come on”. I was still looking at Danielle trying to think of something clever to say as she stared straight into my eyes. I was speechless! Before I knew what was happening someone tagged me and said “your it”. Well…I never even took my eyes off Danielle, but she gave me this cunning smile and then took off running. I never hesitated. I immediately took off after her chasing her clear down the street as she giggled and laughed. We ran way beyond the boundary of the tag game and all my buddies just sort of put there hands on their hips wondering where the heck I was going, and what on earth was I doing (I was sorta’ thinking the same thing). I finally caught and tagged Danielle and we sort of stumbled and hung on to each other for a moment when she stopped in her tracks (what an awkward but wonderful moment!). She then chased me all the way back to my front yard. By then I’m sure most of my buddies knew what was going on as it became primarily a game of me and Danielle chasing and tagging each other when we were “it” 🙂 But I will never forget that tag game, and Danielle, and the way she made me feel when we looked at each other. It was the first time I ever had any feelings for a girl. And it was confusing. Not long after that first encounter with Danielle things began to become even more confusing. One night my sister came into my room and said “have you looked in your desk drawer lately?” Of course I hadn’t so I opened the drawer and laying inside was a small package with a little note attached. It was from Danielle! I’m pretty sure the package was candy hearts (this was over 40 years ago). However, I remember exactly what Danielle wrote in the note…”just a little something”. And she added these cute little drawings of hearts on the note (sigh…those little heart drawings and note made me warm all over again 🙂 Now, being the pre-adolescent I was I had no clue how to reciprocate this unexpected but heart-warming gesture. I think I turned to my sister expecting an answer, but she was already out the door, her duty done. I speculated all night on what I should do. After sleeping on it I came up with this great idea. I’ll make Danielle a little package of candy hearts and write her a note that says “just a little something”. I’d even draw little hearts on the note. And I did! Very clever. You have to understand, I was very new at this game of love 🙂

It wasn’t long and Danielle my sister and I, and Danielle’s brother (who I think my sister had a crush on) were going on double dates to the movies. We went to Saturday matinees and saw movies like The Brides Of Dracula, Once Upon A Time In The West and Premature Burial. Danielle and I started holding hands (gasp!). Then not long after that we started playing “Truth Or Dare” and “Spin The Bottle”. My first kiss! Well…you get the drift. Of course about a year later Danielle, being a year older than I, decided she wanted to date “older” guys and she broke up with me. I guess I was still too immature for her 🙂 I was devastated. But I slowly got over it. So as the saying goes, you never forget your first love; and in the end you find your true love and get married; then you have kids of your own…and so on 🙂

Such was life for me as I was growing up in SF during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. I played baseball, collected baseball cards, played tag, “Ha Ha Herman” and other games with my neighborhood friends. I was very lucky. I had great parents (still do!) and we lived in a middle-class neighborhood in SF and had lots a friends. The street we lived on (Urbano Drive) was once a race track in the horse and buggy days. So it was a big circle of houses that you could ride your bike around in about 20-30 minutes. In the middle of Urbano Drive (inside the old race track) was a smaller circular cul-de-sac street that had a tiny park with trees and a huge cement sundial complete with roman numerals on the outer edge. As a kid you could shimmy up the sundial and get a great view of things above the tree line! Also, the trees in the park had sturdy wide limbs that seemed to grow more outwards than upwards. Thus, they were easy to climb and you could almost walk from tree to tree like a squirrel because the trees were spaced so closely together. I remember actually being able to lie down flat on top of those trees, the huge branches acting like rafters to hold me aloft. There was a huge house across from the park that had a big garage. A rock band would play about once a month, inside the garage. They were a very good band. Every once in awhile they would open the garage door and you could watch them play. I used to lay in those trees and listen to the music as I watched the seagulls dancing above me. There were always a lot of pretty young women walking around near the house when the band was playing. All the women had long flowing hair with flowers woven at the top of their head, like angel halo’s. The women also walked around with fancy wine or champagne glasses in their hands. My friends and I would ride our banana seat “stingray” bikes and practice doing wheelies, trying to impress all those pretty young women 🙂 Years later I was told that Carlos Santana lived in SF, near Urbano Drive. I still wonder if the band I was listening to in that park was Carlos Santana’s band!

Baseball Cards and Hockey

While researching for this post I found an article written in 2006 that pretty much covers most of what I was planning to write about the 1971 Topps baseball set. You can find the short article here. Since the article was written over 4 years ago for the card grading company PSA, I feel obligated to add a few comments. First…I think the article does a decent job of discussing the scarcity issues that all baseball card collectors of vintage cards have to deal with when trying to complete an entire set, i.e. the last series of cards issued by Topps in 1971 are the hardest to find. And this is pretty much true for all Topps baseball card sets issued between 1952-1973. Second…as I have mentioned in previous posts I still have a lot of “kid” in me when it comes to collecting baseball cards. By that I mean that I am perfectly happy collecting cards that are not in great condition, and as an adult, I try not to dwell too much on the monetary value of baseball cards. I still like the “feel” of a baseball card in my grubby little hand, and, holding a slabbed card graded by PSA (or any other grading company) just doesn’t “feel” right to me. If I can’t feel comfortable handing an un-slabbed card to a kid to look at, then it just ceases to be a fun hobby, in my opinion. Since I am primarily a set collector of cards that were manufactured anywhere from 40-100+ years ago I have no choice but to collect lesser conditioned cards. My pockets are not as deep as others thus that is a compromise that I am happy to have to deal with. Don’t get me wrong, if I had the choice of a near mint looking card vs. a fair looking card, I would always choose the better looking card. But unfortunately in real life the difference between those 2 cards can be in the thousands of dollars in this hobby : ( Thus, I don’t share the same feelings of those that “have-to-have” a near mint card or set, a slabbed card, or a card that is perfectly centered. However, I will agree that the 1971 Topps cards that are in pristine condition do look very cool since they have a beautiful black border, which seems to be one feature that makes this set very popular. But I believe the 1971 Topps baseball cards look cool regardless of their condition. The black border, the front and back card design, the players and the added action shots make this an appealing set to collect.

During certain years you can tell when Topps put more effort into their card design, and 1971 was one of those years. Just in case you are curious here are a few of my other favorite Topps baseball card set designs; 1952, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966 and 1967. And Bowman made some great looking baseball cards in the 1950’s. My two favorite Bowman designs are the 1953 color set and the 1955 set (often called the TV set). Topps and Bowman battled for the baseball card bubble gum market in the 1950’s which ultimately contributed to some beautiful card designs by both companies. A lot has been written about the marketing and design battle between Bowman and Topps. A quick Google should render some interesting articles.

So far I’ve written primarily about my experiences as a kid while living in San Francisco between 1965-1971. I’ve written a little bit about the SF Giants, SF 49ers, SF Warriors, Oakland Athletics and Oakland Raiders. But there is one more sport, and experience, I need add to the foray. Hockey! Yes…the Bay Area had a professional hockey team (actually the hockey team played across the bay in Oakland). They were called the California Golden Seals among many other names during a 6-7 year period. They certainly were not the best team in the NHL but it was exciting to see them play none-the-less. However, as it turned out, I was only able to attend one NHL hockey game while my family lived in SF because the game happened to set a record for the most penalty minutes in game (a record that stood for many years) and there were a bunch of bench clearing brawls. My Mom took my Cub Scout troop to this game. To this day I believe she still feels bad about subjecting us little cubbies to such an onslaught of violence. But I must say that I became quite the hockey fan that day 🙂 There is nothing like experiencing the sights and sounds of an NHL hockey game for the first time! Unfortunately, I have been unable to find the game log on the Internet for that remarkable game, but I remember the Seals played the Pittsburgh Penguins that day.

As a point of reference, during the 1970-1971 NHL hockey season the Boston Bruins were the team to be reckoned with, unlike the Seals. In fact, through the first 32 games of the season the top 4 scorers in the NHL were all Bruins (Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr, Ken Hodge and John McKenzie). Further, the Bruins had 6 players in the top 10 scorers bracket (add John Bucyk and Wayne Cashman). Phil Esposito had 30 goals and 34 assists through the first 32 games of the season! This was one of five Boston Bruin teams that would dominate during the early 1970’s. After we moved from SF to Miami in the Fall of 1971, I remember NBC would televise an NHL game-of-the-week on Sunday afternoons. I always thought it was rather strange for NBC to be broadcasting hockey on TV in sunny/hot Miami. But I became a bit of a Bruins fan during that time as they were the team most often televised, and I remember watching Bobby Orr take the puck from behind his own goal and race up the ice, putting on a few moves and taking a shot-on-goal or feeding a another Bruin deep in enemy territory. I believe Orr was one of the first defensemen to start this trend (skating from one end of the ice to the other). All I know is he was very fast, knew how to ice skate and was fun to watch!

The 1971 SF Giants and Topps Cards

The 1971 SF Giants were predominately a power hitting ball club with pretty good speed. Not one batter on the 1971 Giants hit .300, and in fact the player that came the closest was Bobby Bonds who hit .288. However, of the 8 regular starters 5 would hit 15 or more HR’s. And all but 1 starter would have 50 or more RBI’s (the starter that didn’t was rookie SS Chris Speier). 1971 would be Willie Mays‘ last year playing full-time (Willie would be traded to the NY Mets in 1972 and retire after the 1973 season). In 1971 Mays lead the NL in OBP and would walk 112 times. Willie also stole 23 bases (he was 40 years old). Bobby Bonds would lead the Giants in hits, runs, HR’s, RBI’s and stolen bases. Bonds was one of the first power and speed lead-off hitters in MLB. Bobby was also the first player to steal at least 30 bases AND hit at least 30 HR’s in one season. Although he did not achieve that feat in 1971 he did do it 5 other seasons, including his 2nd year in MLB during the 1969 season!. Bobby’s son Barry would also achieve this feat. Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry were the nucleus of the Giants pitching staff in 1971. Between them they pitched over 550 innings. However, the SF Giants had a number of other pitchers on their staff that played key roles in the 1971 campaign. More about the 1971 SF Giants pitching staff later. Suffice it to say that in 1971 the SF Giants could be characterized as a power hitting ball club with good speed and a very good pitching staff.

1971 must have been the year that Ken Henderson locked down the left field position for the Giants as I remember seeing (and hearing) Kenny a lot that year, running for balls hit down the left field foul line where we sat for most Giants games at Candlestick Park. There is nothing like the sound of a professional baseball player running hard and grunting as he attempts to make a catch near the seats (it’s actually a rather startling sound). To me as a kid Kenny looked like a giant…and I mean giant as in huge 🙂 I also remember that behind the left field fence in Candlestick Park there was a small grassy area. When someone hit a HR over the fence, people would jump from the stands down to the grass to grab the ball. There was usually an ensuing struggle or fight for the loose ball as people piled onto each other, and I remember thinking to myself that I’d probably get clobbered out there if I ever jumped down to try to get one of those HR balls. I can still hear the sound of Ken Henderson crashing into that left field fence trying to make a jumping catch (sometimes successfully!). And I remember waving to Kenny from my seat as he took his position in left field each inning. Funny, I don’t remember him waving back 🙂 One night my family was sitting leisurely in our seats drinking hot chocolate when all of a sudden everyone jumped up and I heard a loud “thunk” sound behind me as people pushed and leaned over our seats. An older woman behind me was hit in the head with a foul ball. She had blood streaming down the side of her face and half the people around her were trying to help her while the other half were trying to find the foul ball. That was a difficult moment for me. I was sad and scared for the injured old lady and that is when I first realized the savagery of “the game”. I wonder whatever became of that old women? Strange…but I can still remember seeing her peanut bag sprawled on the ground behind my seat as she was whisked away by the Candlestick Park game attendants. That is also when I learned to keep my eye on every play of the game, my baseball glove at the ready. I never did catch a foul ball at a MLB game, but like most people, I came close 🙂

One of my favorite cards in the 1971 Topps baseball set is the card of Nolan Ryan. And not because of Ryan’s HOF feats. The card is a great action shot of Ryan pitching in a Mets uniform with his leg kicked, his glove out-stretched, his right hand behind him completely blocked from view as he looks like he is just about to uncork one of his famous fast balls! Behind Nolan in the background is a hugh sign for Royal Crown Cola the official sponsor of the NY Mets during the 1960’s-1980’s. Thus, this action shot of Ryan was probably shot in Shea Stadium during the 1970 season (he sure looks young). In fact, I have read where most of the 1971 Topps action shots were taken either in Shea Staduim or Yankee stadium. The RC Cola sign in the background really adds a nice touch of nostalgia to the card. Anyway, the 1971 Topps Nolan Ryan card is one of the best Topps actions pictures ever taken, IMO. And the 1971 Topps Thurman Munson card isn’t too bad either 🙂 In one of my next posts I’ll talk a little bit about the 1971 Topps baseball card design.

SAN FRANCISCO Giants, 2010 World Champs!

Well…they couldn’t do it in 1958 when they moved to SF from NY (the year I was born). Nor could they do it between 1965-1971 when I lived in SF. But last night they did it…the SAN FRANCISCO Giants won their first World Series! It took them 52 years, but they finally brought a World Series championship to the SF Bay area! The Giants first WS championship since 1954, the year they shocked the baseball world by sweeping the mighty Cleveland Indians 4 games to 0. Cleveland was 111-43 that year (that’s a .721 winning percentage!). The NY Giants were 97-57 in 1954. The SF Giants were 92-70 in 2010 but ended the season 7-3 then went 11-4 in the post season to capture the World Series. So I guess the old baseball maxim “good pitching beats good hitting” is still true. And the SF Giants proved it by stifling the mighty Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers offense. But timely hitting is important too and who better than the clutch veteran hitter Edgar Renteria to get the WS game winning hit (the 2nd time for Edgar…he did it in 1997 for the Florida Marlins). Renteria’s 3 run HR was all the Giants pitchers needed to gain the victory. In the end, the SF Giants pitching staff compiled a post season ERA of 2.47. Not too shabby. That means the SF hitters had to score 3 or more runs per game to win…and they did! Congrats to all the Giants fans out there. And enjoy it while you can because it sure is hard to repeat 🙂