Wednesday, November 6, 2019

#16 Joe Morgan / Sonny Jackson - Rookie Stars (Prologue, Part 2)

Joe Leonard Morgan
Houston Astros
2nd Base

Bats:  Left  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'7"  Weight:  160
Born:  September 19, 1943, Bonham, TX
Signed:  Signed by the Houston Colt .45s as an amateur free agent, November 1, 1962
Major League Teams:  Houston Colt .45s 1963-1964; Houston Astros 1965-1971; Cincinnati Reds 1972-1979; Houston Astros 1980; San Francisco Giants 1981-1982; Philadelphia Phillies 1983; Oakland Athletics 1984
Hall of Fame Induction:  1990

Roland Thomas Jackson
Houston Astros

Bats:  Left  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'9"  Weight:  150
Born:  July 9, 1944, Washington, DC
Signed:  Signed by the Houston Colt .45s as an amateur free agent before the 1963 season
Major League Teams:  Houston Colt .45s 1963-1964; Houston Astros 1965-1967; Atlanta Braves 1968-1974
Joe Morgan put together a Hall of Fame career, playing 22 seasons and winning the N.L. MVP award in back-to-back years in 1975 and 1976.  He was a ten-time All-Star, winning the All-Star Game MVP honors in 1972.  He won five Gold Gloves and helped lead the Big Red Machine to two World Series titles in 1975 and 1976.  He's currently ranked 11th all-time in stolen bases with 689, and second all-time at games played at second base with 2,527.  Only fellow Hall of Famer Eddie Collins played more games at the position with 2.650.  Morgan was elected into baseball's Hall of Fame in 1990.

Sonny Jackson played in parts of 12 seasons with the Astros and Braves, finishing second in the N.L. Rookie of the Year voting in 1966 behind Tommy Helms.  That was also his best season statistically when he stole 49 bases, and led the league in singles and sacrifice hits.

Building the Set
Acquired Circa 1983 - Card #2
I'm fairly certain I purchased this card at the 1983 Ocean City Baseball Card Show, held inside the Music Pier on the Ocean City Boardwalk.  I would have wanted the card for two reasons - Morgan was on the Phillies roster in the summer of 1983 as part of the Big Red Machine reunion with Pete Rose and Tony Perez.  The so-called Wheeze Kids would go on to lose to the Orioles in the 1983 World Series.  The other reason was I wanted to own a card for a team I had only recently learned even existed - the Houston Colt .45s.  Now technically this is an Astros card since the franchise switched its name prior to the 1965 season, but I still thought it was cool to own a card with the .45s logo on the caps of the players.

This along with the Joe Jay card (#174) are the only two non-Phillies 1965 Topps cards we owned prior to making the decision to collect the entire set.

The Card
I never realized how crooked this card was until I scanned it for this post.  On December 1, 1964, the Houston Colt .45s officially changed their name to the Houston Astros.  This was too little notice for Topps to update their first series cards, and to play it safe Topps used just the "Houston" moniker until they got to the second series.  This is technically the first ever Houston Astros baseball card.

This is also the first multi-player Rookie Stars card in the set.  Topps had introduced the multi-player rookie concept in its 1962 set as a way to squeeze more players into its checklist, a challenge given the expansion teams added that season.

1965 Season - Morgan
1965 was to be Morgan's first full season as he appeared in 157 games for the Astros and led the league with 97 walks.  He earned some MVP votes and finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting behind the Dodgers' Jim Lefebvre.

He led the Astros in runs (100), hits (163), and triples (12).  Even with the offensive fire power provided by Morgan and center fielder Jim Wynn, the Astros still finished ninth in the National League, saved from the cellar only by a woeful Mets team.

Phillies Career - Morgan
On December 14, 1982, the Giants traded the 39-year-old Morgan with Al Holland to the Phillies for Mark Davis, Mike Krukow and minor leaguer C.L. Penigar.  Morgan had enjoyed an impressive 1982 season, winning the N.L. Comeback Player of the Year award and a Silver Slugger at second base.  As the regular second baseman for the Phillies, He appeared in 123 games, hitting .230 with 16 home runs, 59 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.

He played in his final postseason games with the Phillies, appearing in all five World Series games and hitting .263 with two home runs.  He homered off the Orioles' Scott McGregor in the sixth inning of Game 1, tying up the game.  The Phillies released Morgan after the World Series and he signed with the A's, where he'd close out his career the following season.
1965 Season - Jackson
Jackson appeared in only 10 games for the Astros in 1965 as a September call-up, hitting .130 (3 for 23).  He spent the majority of the season playing for the Astros' top farm team in the Pacific Coast League - the Oklahoma City 89ers.  In 142 games for the 89ers, Jackson hit .330 and was second in the league with 53 stolen bases.

SI cover, March 14, 1983

1966 Topps #195
1975 Topps #180
1976 Topps #420
1983 Topps Traded #77T
1985 Topps #352
Other Notable Baseball Cards - Morgan
First Mainstream Card:  1965 Topps #16
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (21):  1965-1985
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2019 Topps Update Est 1869 EST6

1,377 - Morgan non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/2/19.

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
National Baseball Hall of Fame
The Phillies Room
The Trading Card Database
Other Notable Baseball Cards - Jackson
First Mainstream Card:  1965 Topps #16
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (10):  1965-1974
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2003 MLB Showdown Strategy #S6

69 - Jackson non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/2/19.

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Trading Card Database
1967 Topps #415
1970 Topps #413
1971 Topps #587
1973 Topps #403
1974 Topps #591

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

#174 Joe Jay - Cincinnati Reds (Prologue)

Joseph Richard Jay
Cincinnati Reds

Bats:  Both  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'4"  Weight:  228
Born:  August 15, 1935, Middletown, CT
Signed:  Signed by the Milwaukee Braves as an amateur free agent, June 23, 1953
Major League Teams:  Milwaukee Braves 1953-1955, 1957-1960; Cincinnati Reds 1961-1966; Atlanta Braves 1966

Joey Jay was a successful National League pitcher for 13 seasons, compiling a lifetime record of 99-91 and earning an All-Star game berth in his best season, 1961.  A bonus baby with the Braves, Jay made his big league debut in 1953 at the age of 17, pitching a rain-shortened, seven-inning complete game shutout.

He was a 21-game winner in 1961, his first with the Reds, and he started Games 2 and 5 for the N.L. pennant winners against the powerhouse Yankees.  Jay was fantastic in Game 2, throwing a complete game victory, and allowing two runs on four hits.  He was roughed up in the decisive Game 5, lasting just 2/3 of an inning in a game the Yankees would ultimately win, 13-5 to clinch the championship.

He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2008.

Building the Set
Acquired Circa 1981 - Card #1
For reasons that have been completely lost over time, my Dad brought home this Joe Jay card one day in either 1981 or 1982.  I had recently become an active baseball card collector, opening as many packs as I could of the new Topps, Donruss and Fleer releases thanks to the generosity of my Dad and my Pop-Pop.  Neither ever exited a Wawa without buying a pack of cigarettes for themselves and a pack of baseball cards for me.

The entirety of my baseball card collection was housed inside a now-falling-apart vinyl Sports Locker Card Case with each compartment designated for one of the then 26 teams, multi-player cards or checklists.  The Phillies cards quickly broke through their compartment and had to be moved to a bigger box.  But the other teams, including this Jay card, were secured safely inside for the first few years of my new obsession - baseball card collecting.

Jay was one of a trio of completely disconnected cards my Dad purchased somewhere in either 1981 or 1982 and added to my new collection - the others being a 1959 Topps Jim Busby with the right top corner missing and a 1961 Topps Juan Pizarro, which I vaguely recall he purchased because Pizarro's last name was similar to ours.  My Dad was coaching my Little League team at the time, and I remember him telling me Jay had been the first Little League player to make it to the big leagues.  These three cards were ancient in my mind and I handled them as if they may crumble to dust if they weren't treated gently.  If my Dad were around today, I'd love to ask him if he remembers where and more importantly why he had bought these particular three cards.  A few years later, the Magic Shoebox entered my life and I originally told that story in a blog post in 2011.

So recently, when I decided the 1965 Topps set would be the next set I'd be collecting, I also decided this slightly beat up Jay card would be the symbolic first card in our set.  The rest of the cards we gather will be in much better shape than this, but given that this random baseball card has been a cornerstone in my collection since the beginning, it's only fitting it be the first of the other 597 1965 Topps cards that will soon join it.

The Card
Jay is shown wearing a Reds home uniform in the style worn by the team between 1961 and 1966.  On the back of the card, it's odd that Topps would highlight the 17 games Jay won with the Wichita Braves in 1957 when he had been a 21-game winner twice since then with the 1961 and 1962 Reds.

1965 Season
Jay went 9-8 for the Reds, appearing in 37 games and making 24 starts.  The Reds, managed by former Phillies great Dick Sisler, finished in fourth place in the N.L. with a record of 93-69.

1954 Topps #141
1959 Topps #273
1962 Topps #233
1964 Topps #346
1966 Topps #406
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1954 Topps #141
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (11):  1954-1955, 1958-1966
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1994 Topps Archives 1954 #141

71 - Jay non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/2/19.

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.