Sunday, April 25, 2010

1968 Topps #542 John Boccabella - PSA 8.5

John Boccabella was a journeyman catcher and utility player for the Cubs, the Expos and the Giants during his 12 season career. He was signed by the Cubs as an amatuer free agent in 1963. Boccabella played for six season with the Cubs. During his stay with the Cubs, he appeared in 146 games and made 403 plate appearances. His Cubs batting average was .223 with 8 home runs and 44 RBIs.

The Cubs made him available in the 1968 expansion draft and he was selected as the 56th pick by the Expos. Boccabella spent five seasons with the Expos and a final season with the Giants before his career ended after the 1974 season.

The card in my 1968 Topps PSA graded collection is a PSA 8.5 version.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

1968 Topps #516 Pete Mikkelson - PSA 7

Pete Mikkelsen had a very brief Cubs career. He was picked up off waivers from the Pirates in August 1967 and was traded to the Cardinals along with Dave Dowling for Jack Lamabe and Ron Piche on April 22, 1968. His Cubs career lasted 10 games and 11 and 2/3s innings. During his stay with the Cubs he did not record a win or a loss and compiled a 6.94 ERA.

Overall, Mikkelsen had a nine year MLB career with 5 different teams. He primarily worked out of the bullpen. His MLB record was 45 wins and 40 losses with and ERA of 3.38.

Friday, April 23, 2010

1968 Topps #475 - Joe Niekro - PSA 8

Joe Niekro is featured on card #475 of the 1968 Topps set. Joe Niekro was the brother of HOF pitcher Phil Niekro and the father of Lance Niekro who played for 4 years for the Giants. Joe Niekro was drafted by the Cubs in the 1966 amateur draft and played two plus years for the Cubs. Niekro debuted for the Cubs in April 1967 and was traded to the Padres in late April 1969 along with Frankie Libran and Gary Ross for Dick Selma.

As a Cub, Niekro played in 74 games compiling a record of 24 wins and 18 losses with and ERA of 3.83. Overall Niekro played for 22 seasons with 7 different teams. During his MLB career he won 221 games while losing 204. His career ERA was 3.59. Niekro’s final game was for the Twins in April of 1988. He died in October of 2006.

I currently have a PSA 8 version of Niekro’s 1968 Topps card.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

1968 Topps #451 Al Spangler

Al Spangler appears on card # 451 in the 1968 Topps baseball set. The version currently in my graded 1968 Cubs set is a PSA 8.

Spangler was originally signed by the Braves in 1954. His debut with the Braves occurred in September 1959. He was drafted by the Colt 45’s in the 1961 expansion draft and became one of the original members of that team.

Spangler’s Cubs career began in 1967 after he was signed as a free agent. Spangler played five seasons with the Cubs as a reserve outfielder and pinch hitter. As a Cubs Spangler appeared in 258 games compiling a .241 batting average with 7 HR’s and 55 RBI’s. One of the highlights of his Cubs career came on June 12, 1969 when he hit 2 home runs and drove in 4 runs in a game with the Atlanta Braves.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

1968 Topps #339 Rich Nye

Rich Nye was a promising left handed pitcher for the Cubs in the late 1960’s. He was drafted by the Cubs in 1966 and played for the Cubs for 4 years. He appeared in 99 games as a Cub both as a starter and a reliever. His best year for the Cubs was 1967 when he won 13 games with a 3.20 ERA. Overall as a Cub, Nye had a record of 23 wins and 29 losses with an ERA of 3.66. Injuries shortened what was a promising career. After spending 1970 with the Cardinals and Expos, he retired.

He completed studies as a veterinarian at the University of Illinois in 1976 and set up a practice in Brookfield, Illinois. His practice was directed towards exotic animals. He has retired from his practice but still serves as a consultant to veterinarians treating exotic animals.

In the 1968 Topps baseball set, Nye appeared on card #339. My PSA 8 version of this card is shown here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

1968 Topps #279 Bill Hands - PSA 7

Card # 279 in the 1968 Topps baseball set features Bill Hands. Bill Hands played for the Cubs for 7 seasons. Hands was a solid starting pitcher for the Cubs from 1966 through 1972. His most memorable season may have been 1969 when he and Fergie Jenkins were an outstanding 1, 2 punch for the Cubs. Fergie finished with 21 wins while Hands won 20.

Overall Hands compiled a record of 92 wins and 86 losses with the Cubs. His ERA of 3.18 was also very solid. In 1972, Hands was traded to the Twins along with Joe Decker for Dave LaRoche.

Monday, April 5, 2010

1968 Topps #83 John Stephenson

John Stephenson spent parts of 10 seasons with four different teams including the Cubs. He was primarily a back-up catcher and pinch hitter. Stephenson’s busiest season occurred in 1971 for the California Angels. During that season, he played in 98 games and 308 plate appearances.

Stephenson came to the Cubs in a deal with the Mets. In June 1967 Stephenson and Rob Gardener came from the Mets for Bob Hendley. Stephenson played in 20 games for the Cubs in 1967 and 1968. He was released by the Cubs in April 1968 after playing in 2 games.

Even though Stephenson barely played for the Cubs in 1968, he was pictured on card #83 in the 1968 Topps baseball set. The copy that I have for my graded Cubs set is a PSA 8.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

1968 Ken Holtzman

Ken Holtzman had three different cards in the 1968 Topps baseball set. His base player card was #60....shown here in PSA 9 - Mint condition.

Holtzman was also pictured on one of the set checklists (card #356). The checklist had two variations. The location of the player's head within the circle created the variation. This is a card that I have not yet collected in a graded version.

The third Holtzman card was #380 which was his All-Star card. This is shown in this post as a PSA 8 - NM-MT version.

Holtzman was drafted by the Cubs in the 1965 amatuer draft. He debuted in September 1965 and was a solid pitcher for the Cubs through 1971. He twice won 17 games as a Cub. Holtzman was traded to the A's for Rick Monday in November of 1971. Holtzman returned to the Cubs in June 1978 and completed his career in 1979 in a Cubs uniform. Holtzman won 80 games as a Cub during 9 seasons.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

1968 Topps #37 - Billy Williams

I like the Cubs new owner already. Tom Ricketts has announced that the Cubs will erect a statue in honor of Billy Williams on September 7. Hopefully this will be the first of several statues to honor the Cubs players that have made this a very special franchise.

So it is fitting that the first card in my 1968 Graded Topps set is Billy Williams. 1968 was a "typical" year for Williams. He played in every game and made 699 plate appearances. Williams posted a .288 batting average with 30 home runs and 98 RBI's. During Williams 18 year career, he had a batting average of .290 with 28 home runs and 96 RBI's.

Williams 16 year career with the Cubs was a special time for Cubs fans.

Friday, April 2, 2010

1968 Topps PSA Graded Cubs Set

I still have some work to do on my PSA Graded 1975 Topps - Chicago Cubs team set, but this work will slow down considerably now. I am only missing one card now from that set (#15 Jose Cardenal). The remainder of the work will involve upgrading the many PSA 8's to PSA 9 or better.

So for my blog, I will move on to my 1968 Topps PSA Graded Cubs set. Currently, my 1968 set is ranked 10th in the PSA Set Registry. I have 11 out of the required 36 cards for this set (30.56% Complete). The cards vary from PSA 7 to PSA 9, giving the set a weighted grade of 7.672.