Thursday, September 29, 2011

1977 Boston Red Sox

This team won 97 games and still missed the post season by 2 1/2 games plus they finished tied for 2nd with the Orioles.  That AL East was pretty strong, eh ?  I remember that 3 way pennant race like it was yesterday.  As late as Aug 22nd the Bosox led the division, but the Yankees turned it on late and won out in the end.  This team.  The Sahx led the AL in hitting and homers, but that shouldn't surprise anyone since this lineup had HOF'ers Jim Rice and Yaz right in the middle of it.  Butch Hobson and Carlton Fisk both hit over 30 homers.  Rice hit 39.  The keystone combo of Denny Doyle and Rick Burleson were the only two regulars not in double digits in homers, but nobody cared, because they were there to turn double plays and set the table.  With a .281 team batting average and some pretty good gloves in the field something had to hold this team back from winning it all.  That something was pitching.  Firstly the Sahx did not have a dominant starter.  The closest thing they had to an ace was an aging Fergie Jenkins, who finished at an even 10-10 and was the only regular starter with a sub 4.00 ERA.  The pen was strong enough to cover for the weak starters.  The trio of Bob Stanley, Mike Paxton and Bill Campbell each logged over 100 innings out of the pen with Campbell posting an impressive 31 saves.

Only 13 players needed to be added to the '77 Topps set to complete the Red Sox team.

Few remember that Bo Diaz was the Red Sox catching prospect dealt to Cleveland in the Dennis Eckersley deal.  It was a great deal for the Red Sox.  At the time they figured that Fisk would catch forever, which he did (unfortunately for them most of it was for Chicago).  Diaz appeared in 2 games in 77 for the Red Sox and batted just once.  He would go on to have a rock solid career in Cleveland and Philly.  He died tragically at the age of 37 falling off a roof while attempting to install an antenna.  The photo used here came from his 1978 rookie panel card.

By the time Bailey arrived in Boston he was close to the end of a solid major league career, which was spent exclusively in the National League.  Bailey was aquired at the end of the season after playing part time for the Reds for the previous 2 seasons.  He would serve as a part time DH for Boston the following season and hit just .191 before retiring.  This photo is from his 1978 Topps card.  It's an obvious airbrush on his Reds helmet.  No reason to do a lot of custom work for a guy who batted twice for the Red Sox.

In 1977 Stanley was a 22 year old rookie getting his first shot at the bigs.  Logging 150 innings out of the pen he was definitely relied upon and he came through.  Stanley had a pretty darn good career up in Beantown.  He spent all of his 13 seasons in 1 uniform and is unfortunately best remembered for throwing the wild pitch in game 6 of the '86 world series vs the Mets that tied the game.  He followed that up by getting Mookie Wilson to hit a slow roller down the 1st base line...I think we all know the rest.  Since Stanley's 1st appearance in a major league uniform came in '77 Topps did not issue a rookie panel card for him the previous year.  The photo I used for the updated set came from Spring Training.  It was a crisp 8x10 glossy that I found on the net.

Known throughout his career for having a mustache that looked like a baby sheep Aase was a pretty good reliever for well over a decade.  Unfortunately for Boston those seasons would occur in an Angel and Oriole uniform.  In '77 Aase was a rookie starter, who got into 13 games and had a 6-2 record with a 3.12 ERA.  At the end of the season he was dealt to the Angels for hometown boy / folk hero Jerry "Rem-Dog" Remy.  This picture was taken while Aase was at Pawtucket (AAA Affiliate of Boston).  I did some airbrush work on the cap and cut and pasted the "B" on the cap.

Paxton was 10-5 with a 3.83 ERA splitting time between the pen and the rotation.  He would spend just 1 season in Boston before being sent with Diaz over to Cleveland for "The Eck".  This picture was taken a year of two later after Paxton bottomed out and got sent to Cleveland's  AAA affiliate in Charlestown.  I airbrushed out the logo and pasted the "B" on.  For some strange reason he looks a lot like a 30-something year old Michael J. Fox.  Am I the only one who see's this resemblance ?

Aviles played in just 1 game for the 77 Red Sox and didn't even record an official at bat thanks to his sacrifice bunt.  That 1 game would be the one and only time he would wear a Red Sox uniform.  Amazingly I was able to find this photo of him taken in what looks like Comiskey.  Aviles would spend all of '78 in the minors and would eventually be sold to the Phillies where he would win a ring in 1980 as a valuable utility man.

Hernandez was another one of those guys who hit Boston just before he was ready to cash in on his 401k.  After getting lit up in Chicago for most of the season the Red Sox aquired him hoping that they could catch one last flash of lighting in a bottle.  There wasn't even a spark left, let alone lightning.  In 12 games for the Red Sox Hernandez compiled an 0-1 record and a 5.68 ERA, which sadly was better than the 8.22 ERA he recorded in the Windy City.  The photo used here is from an original Black and White 8x10 glossy.  I used Paint Shop Pro to "colorize" it manually.  I think it took about 30-40 minutes to colorize by hand, which is easily longer than any of his outings for the Red Sox.

By trade ted was a 3rd baseman and left fielder, which I find to be an interesting combination.  On the late 70's Red Sox that meant you got to sit behind Jim Rice, Yaz and Butch Hobson.  This would explain why the young Cox was used exclusively as a DH.  In 13 games he hit .362.  Cleveland must have thought he was a star in the making and so he was included in the famed Eckersley deal.  This head shot came from his 1978 rookie panel card.

In his "hey day" during the late 60's and early 70's Helms was a gold glove second baseman with the Reds and Astros.  His biggest claim to fame might be the fact that he was dealt straight up to the Astros for future HOF'er Joe Morgan.  Helms had some solid years in Houston, but Morgan went on to become a two time MVP and champion in Cincy.  By the time Helms moved over from Pittsburgh to Boston mid season he was running on empty.  After going 0-14 in Pittsburgh he was ready for a scenery change.  As a defensive replacement and late inning pinch hitter Helms hit .271 for Boston in what would be his final season in the biggs at the ripe old age of 36.

Poor Dave Coleman.  His only stint in the majors would be his small cup of coffee with the Red Sox in '77.  Coleman had 12 at bats in 13 games and never got a major league hit.  He finished his career with a .000 average.  This photo was taken of him in the minors.  A little bit of airbrush on the cap and some copy and paste and it was good to go.  He's 60 years old now and lives in Dayton, OH.  I bet he would get a kick out of having his one and only Topps card.  Maybe I should e-mail or mail it to him ?

Bownen got 3 cups of coffee with the Sox ('77, '78 & '80) and never hit over .150.  He had only 2 AB's in '77 and struck out both times.  This is his Pawtucket minor league card photo that I airbrushed the logo off and pasted on the "B".

The Boomer was back in Beantown for his second tour of duty after spending the previous 5 seasons in Milwaukee.  Known for calling home runs "Taters" and being the first professional athlete to sport a gold capped tooth, the Boomer had style and power.  By the time he returned to Boston at the age of 33 he was already legend having been a key contributor to their 1967 "Impossible Dream" Pennant wining team.  Boomer hit 33 "Taters" in '77 and played a gold glove caliber 1st base, although he did not win the award, which he won 8 times previously.

Jack Baker was a baseball legend at Auburn University.  As a Red Sox he was a career minor leaguer, who hit .115 in less than 30 AB's over the course of 2 partial seasons.  1977 would see him get 3 AB's and no hits.  When I first glanced at his name I thought, "Isn't he the drummer from Cream?"  Then reality hit me and I realized that I morphed Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker's names together and as a result I didn't have a top notch bass player or drummer, I had a journeyman minor leaguer who might get 1 plate appearance if he is lucky in ARAIG.  I found this photo while searching Google.  It was part of a homemade card that Baker commissioned, so he could print and sign them at autograph shows.  No offense to Mr. Baker, who is probably a real nice guy, but who would want his autograph ?  Anyway, I actually used PSP to copy just the outline of him and paste it into a neutral background for this card, which IMHO looks much better than the card he had professionally made.  Jack, if you see this one, feel free to use it at any show you attend !

NOTE:  3 teams completed (23 to go).  Up next will be either the Yankees or the Rangers, since they are the final two teams with the blue/white template for the position flag on the right side of the card.

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