Baseball Cards and Memories

1963 Topps



October 1, 1903: The Pittsburgh Pirates (aka National League Champions), playing at the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds, defeated the Boston home team of the American League (which was not the Pilgrims), 7-3, in the first regular series game between the two leagues. Cy Young and Boston came back to win the playoff, five games to three. The next year the New York Giants refused to play in a World Series. In 1905 the two leagues reached an agreement for a perpetual and annual Fall Classic. Interestingly, in 2013 at about 8pm, the Pirates took the field in the "wildcard" 1-game playoff against Cincinnati. Another famous moment in Pirates' history, as they win tonight.

Yesterday (2013), the Bucs won; but, on October 2, 1920 , the last triple-header in the Twentieth Century took place, as the League leading Cincinnati Reds took two out of three games that day from the Pittsburgh Pirates. A contemptuous rain threatened to prematurely end the 1920 baseball season ....

1951 Bowman


October 3, 1951 -- Shot heard round the World: Bobby Thompson won the National League pennant for the New York Giants (Manager Leo Durocher's gang) by hitting a home run off of Ralph Branca of the Brooklyn Dodgers, in the bottom of the ninth inning, at the New York Polo Grounds and before 20,000 empty seats. The Giants beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-4. The 1951 World Series was the 10th and last for Yankee Joe DiMaggio. In fact, DiMaggio cracked his eighth and last Series home run in Game 4 and Game 6 marked the final major league game for the Yankee Clipper, who at age 36 was bound for retirement. Yes this was another subway series and those ... Yankees won. McDougald's jackpot wallop in Game 5 -- which broke a 1-1 tie -- was only the third Series grand slam (the others being struck by Cleveland's Elmer Smith in 1920 and the Yankees' Tony Lazzeri in 1936). Mr. Mantle would appear in 11 more World Series, and Mr. Mays would compete in the big event three more times.

Today one thinks that DiMaggio would have been restored rather than retired at age 36. He was only married to Marilyn Monroe for nine turbulent months in 1954, but Joe DiMaggio, the reclusive US baseball legend, organized Monroe’s funeral and, for the next 20 years, had white roses delivered to her grave twice a week. He refused to talk publicly about what he thought happened, how her death was no accident or suicide, but vowed he would never forgive those who caused her death in 1962.

And the Managers of the 51 Series. You may notice that Leo wears a Yankees cap. He had worked with that team in 47 and 48, but had disagreements with the owner. The card makers often used older drawings for their product, so mistakes happened. Leo lost the 1951 series but would prevail in 1954 (as the manager of the Giants, but not against the Yankees).


While based at LA, in an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies (1963), Durocher plays golf with Jed Clampett and Jethro Bodine. He tries to sign Jethro to a baseball contract after discovering Jethro has a strong pitching arm. In a an episode of The Munsters entitled "Herman the Rookie" (1965), Durocher believes Herman is the next Mickey Mantle when he sees him deliver long home runs. He also appeared as himself in an episode of Mr. Ed (1963), when the talking horse sought a tryout with the relocated Los Angeles Dodgers and offered hitting tips to the team. LA won the Series that year.

Perhaps his greatest comedy performance, however, was at Wriggly Field. When he became manager Durocher declared, "I am not the manager of an eighth place team." He was, of course correct; the Cubs finished tenth that year, becoming the first team to finish behind the inept, previously last-place New York Mets.

October 5: In 1888, at Swampoodle Grounds in Washington, D.C., James Francis Galvin of the Pittsburgh Alleghenys becomes the baseball's first 300-game winner by defeating the hometown Senators -- his career will end after 361 victories. In 1901, the Brooklyn Superbas sweep two from the Yankees, 8 to nothing and 4 to 2. Bill Donovan pitches the opener, allowing three hits, in winning career-high 25th game. Christy Mathewson umpires the first game, then loses the 2nd game, also umpired by a ball player. In 1912, during the Highlanders' final game at Hilltop Park, Homer Thompson appears in his first and last game major league event. Although the New York backstop does not bat, in his debut he catches for his younger brother Tommy, making these siblings the first brothers to form a battery in American league history. In 1985, the Toronto Blue Jays clinch their First American League Eastern Division baseball pennant. In 2001, with their 115th victory of the season, the Seattle Mariners break the 1998 Yankee record for most wins in a season. Believe it or not the 1908 Cubs hold the major league record (116). Also on this date in 2001, the Atlanta Braves maul the Marlins (20-3) to maintain the National League East title, becoming the first team in professional sports to win 10 consecutive division titles.

October 6th: In 1966 at age 20, Jim Palmer pitched a World Series shutout (the youngest player to do so). The Baltimore Orioles beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-0. Sandy Koufax was the losing pitcher, his last appearance in the major leagues. Interestingly in 1959, White Sox starter Bob Shaw beat a younger Sandy Koufax 1-0. Never-the-less, the Dodgers went on to win the series in 6 games. It was the Dodgers first World Series appearance since leaving Brooklyn after the 1957 season, and the first White Sox World Series since the 1919 Black Sox scandal 40 years earlier. In 1985, Phil Niekro (then of the New York Yankees) became the 18th pitcher to achieve at least 300 game wins when he blanked the Toronto Blue Jays 8-0 on the last day of the season. At 46, he also became the oldest pitcher to throw a shutout. In 2001, Colorado's Todd Helton (while his team was losing this night) achieved another first in major league history, by having 2 consecutive seasons with 400 or more total bases. His seventh-inning double gave him exactly 400 bases that year.

October 8, 1961: New York Yankees’ pitcher Whitey Ford set the World Series record for consecutive scoreless innings, while extending his streak to 32 in a 7-0 shutout of the Cincinnati Reds in Game 4. Ford added one more scoreless inning in the 1962 World Series to bring that consecutive scoreless inning total to 33. The previous record was 29-2/3 innings, held by a pitcher not himself unfamiliar with the skill of swatting the ball about the field and ot of the park, Babe Ruth.

In 1953, Ford’s career took a two-year hiatus when he was drafted for military duty to serve in the Korean War. When he returned in 1955, he was a model of consistency, posting large numbers of innings pitched and continuing to win a high percentage of his games. In 1961, Ford finished the season with a 25-4 mark, two World Series victories and the Cy Young award. A biography is HERE

October 16, 1909: The first see-saw World Series ended, after each team -- Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Detroit Tigers -- had won alternately until game seven. Pittsburgh pitcher Babe Adams came through with a 6-hit, 8-0 win over Detroit. It was his third complete-game victory and gave the Pirates their first world championship. Three years later, the Series had an eighth game, because the seventh ended in darkness and a tie, and did not count. In this do over between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, Boston won, 2-1, in ten innings. The once-lowly team called the New York Mets won its first World Series baseball championship on this date in 1969. Do you remember what baseball team the Mets beat ?

Mostly Topps, various years


A Record Broken Early in a Career -- September 8, 1958: Roberto Clemente’s bat (his stats -- his 1959 Topps' Card) of the Pittsburgh Pirates tied a major-league (USA) baseball record by hitting three triples. Clemente led the Bucs to a 4-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds. On the same day 8 years later (1966), the first Star Trek episode premiered on NBC TV affiliates across the Nation. NBC cancelled the show on September 2, 1969, because it was unpopular. The concept just never caught on; and the actors, who knew them ?

May 26, 1959: Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, Harvey Haddix, threw a no-hitter for 12 innings; but still recorded a loss to the Braves 1-0 in the 13th inning. Milwaukee Braves slugger Joe Adcock whacked in a run to win the game; however, one must remember that an error had let the game continue to this point. The Pirates tolerated this failure, so Haddix won game seven in the 1960 World Series in Pittsburgh, giving the Pirates a Series title, the first in a long, long time.

September 11, 1959: Elroy Face of the Pittsburgh Pirates saw his 22-game winning streak terminate with extreme prejudice. Face lost to the LA Dodgers, 5-4. He did, however, finish the 1959 season with an impressive 18-1 record. On the same date 31 years earlier, Georgia born Ty Cobb had his last at bat in major league baseball. On the same date in 1991, playing at home in Atlanta, the Braves won a 1-0 no-hit victory over the San Diego Padres. It was the 13th no-hitter in Brave teams' history (three cities). But what made the National League record books, was the fact three different Braves pitchers -- Kent Merker, Mark Wohlers, and Alejandro Peña -- were used in the combined no-hitter.


October 13, 1960, the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series at Forbes Field with a 9th inning homerun by Hall of Famer (2001), Bill Mazeroski. After game six of the World Series, the New York Yankees had scored 46 runs and the Pittsburgh Pirates (Buccaneers) only 17, yet the Bucs had the series tied going into game seven. The final day of play opened with a home run by an unsung hero, Glenn Richard Rocky Nelson. The game's finale (the historic game-winning, walk-off blast by Maz) gave the Bucs a world championship after a thirty-five year famine. An academic building at University of Pittsburgh, which by-the-way had a cornerstone, was later built on the site of Forbes Field. You can still see the plate, I am told, through the floor, a clever cover-up, if ever there was one ....

October 17, 1971 -- Another seven game classic: Roberto Clemente, Steve Blass’ pitching and the leadership of Willie Stargell transformed the Pittsburgh Pirates into World Series winners. After losing the first two games, the Bucs came back to win three consecutive contests (and finally a fourth) for the championship. Steve Blass hurled a four-hitter and Roberto Clemente homered, as the Pirates won the last game, 2-1. The Pirates had a repeat performance on this day in 1979. After being down three games to one, Willie (by then ‘Pops’) Stargell’s third World Series home run gave the Pirate team its third straight win, 4-1, and another world championship. Stargell was Series MVP. Ten years later, during the third game of a series (played in San Francisco), the earth shook, bridges collapsed, fires roared out of control and the televised event was postponed in a shaken Candlestick Park.

On July 31, 1988, Willie Stargell became the 200th man inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Mr. Stargell had 475 career homers, twice leading the National League (NL) (48 in 1971, 44 in 1973). He drove in 1540 runs, scored 1195 and had 2232 hits with a lifetime batting average of .282, and Stargell's inspirational leadership contributed greatly to Pittsburgh Pirate world championships in 1971 and 1979, years when he shared NL MVP honors. His #8 (team playing number) was retired by the Pirates in 1982.

New: 10/03/13 -- Return to Current Newsletter

1966 Topps


April 12, 1966: The Braves team (National League) played its first season-opener in Atlanta against the Pittsburgh, Pirates. Mayor Ivan Allen, who had been instrumental in having the Braves move from Milwaukee, threw out the first pitch. While this Atlanta Braves team broke no recods that year, a number of stellar players are on the field that day. Among the starting line-up were Hall of Famer and home-run king Hank Aaron in right field; Felipe Alou in centerfield (onetime Montreal manager); Hall of Famer Eddie Matthews at third base; Lee Thomas at first base (a Philadelphia general manager); Joe Torre was catching (a New York Yankee manager); and Tony Cloninger was pitching (New York Yankee bullpen coach). In a feat that would not occur in today's reliance on relief pitchers, Cloninger pitched 13 innings before losing 3-2 on a homerun by a young man named Willie Stargell.


Wilver Dornell Stargell became a leader on the Pirate team, filling in for a sorely missed Roberto Clemente, who would die tragically. His leadership helped the Pirates win World Championships in 1971 and in 1979, when he shared National League MVP honors. Stargell would hit 475 career home-runs, entering Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1988. The Atlanta Braves won their first home game in Atlanta, beating the New York Mets 8-4, just 10 days later (April 22nd). In this Atlanta Braves first season, Hank Aaron hit his first home-run of the season in Atlanta against the Houston Astros. This was Aaron's 405th career home-run. Over the next eight years, he would hit over 300 more to become the Major League's all-time home-run king, surpassing Babe Ruth.

Some 35,000 Baseball fans helped to dedicate a new Stadium, just over 104 years ago. At the time, it was the largest assemblage ever gathered at any sports park, anywhere. They enjoyed ideal baseball weather conditions and impressive ceremonies, including concerts by two (count 'em two) marching bands. Brief speeches, as one might expect, preceded the game. The Pittsburgh Pirates hosted the Chicago Cubs, when Forbes Field opened on June 30th (1909). Between Forbes Field and the PNC park pictured here was another facility that sat alongside the Allegheny River. Three Rivers Stadium was contemporary (1970) to the Atlanta facility (1966), which is also now gone. The last game ended at Forbes Field on June 28, 1970. (Read more: --

July 29, 1977: The Atlanta Braves knuckle-ball hurler, Phil Niekro, struck out four Pittsburgh Pirates in one inning. Niekro became the first pitcher in Braves history (Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta) to do so. Baseball rules provide that a batter can try to make first base, if a catcher fails to catch the ball on a batter's third strike. In such a case, if the batter reaches first base before the ball arrives, the pitcher will be credited with a strike-out, but the out does not count against the team at bat.