A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Forty-six Down, Seven To Go

At the beginning of the year, I made some collecting goals (because apparently that's something that cardbloggers do).  One of them was to finish a vintage Padre team set.  I'm not a huge fan of the 1970 or 1972 designs, so I set my sights on the sets from 1969, 1971, and 1973.  I didn't want to get too ambitious, so I just said that I wanted to finish one of them, whatever ended up happening first.

Well, it turns out that through some thrifty eBay lots and some generous trades, I've been able to get a pretty good start on the '71 and '73 sets.  It's only the end of March, and (as you can tell by looking at the "Cards I Collect" counter on the sidebar) I have 87% of the '71 Padres taken care of, as well as 87% of the '73 Friars.  As the title of the post might lead you to believe, of the 53 cards in both sets, I only need seven left to complete both.  All are of the high-numbered short print variety, so we'll see how it goes tracking those down.

The four most recent additions to the vintage sets came from a reader and Giants fan named mrhavercamp.  I'd heard of him from trades with Adam from the Arpsmith blog.  He emailed me and said that he had some vintage Padres that I could use, and I sent him some mini's and a handful of Giants in return.

From looking at his stats, I first thought that Gary Ross might be an Original Padre (from the 1968 expansion draft).  However, upon further review, he pitched in two games for the Cubbies in 1969 before being traded to San Diego for Dick Selma.  That year, he pitched a semi-decent 4.19 ERA, to go along with a miserable 3-12 record.  Wikipedia tells us that he set a Padres record for losing 11 consecutive decisions.  

Ron Slocum, however is an Original Padre.  Though a California boy, he was signed by the Pirates circa-1964, though never made the big club.  The Padres took him with the 55th pick in the expansion draft.  He got his first taste of the big leagues the following year, playing in 13 games in 1969, and hit a respectable .292.  He didn't improve in 1970, hitting .141 in 60 games, and he was sent down to AAA in 1971 after going hitless in his first 20 plate appearances.  He wouldn't make it to the majors again.

Man, those were kind of depressing bios.  Let's see if the additions to the 1973 set will lighten the mood...

Mike Caldwell was drafted by San Diego in 1971.  While he wasn't known for being over 400 pounds and doing backflips during his magic act (that was a different Mike Caldwell), he did pitch for the Padres for three years ('71 to '73) and compile an ERA of 3.80.  His win-loss record, however, wasn't much better than Ross', as he went 13-25 during that stretch.  He was traded in 1973 to the Giants, in a trade that brought Willie McCovey to the Friars.  That's pretty good, right?

Plus, on a good note for Mr. Caldwell, he went 22-9 in 1978, winning the AL Comeback Player of the Year award and coming in second to Ron Guidry in the Cy Young balloting.

DING DING DING DING DING!  Steve Arlin is another Original Padre, taken with the 57th pick in the Expansion Draft.  A quick glance at his stats suggests that if I'm looking for greatness, I've probably come to the wrong place; in 1971, he led the league with 19 losses.  Ouch.  Ok, everybody's entitled to a bad year.  How did he follow up the next year?

He topped his loss total by losing a whopping 21 games!  Not only that, he also led the league in walks (122) and wild pitches (15).  Double ouch.  Once again, wikipedia enlightens us by informing the world that he took up dentistry during his playing career, and became a dentist after his playing career.  I wonder if it was a suggestion by somebody with the Padres organization?

It wasn't all bad for Steve, however.  He biggest claim to fame is that in 1972, he came within ONE STRIKE of what would've still been the only Padre no-hitter, when he gave up a single to Phillies hitter Denny Doyle.  Padres third baseman Dave Roberts had been told by manager Don Zimmer to play shallow to anticipate a bunt, but Doyle hit a high chopper over the head of Roberts to notch the first Phillies hit of the day, a ball that  Roberts would've normally been able to get to.

So, does knowing about Caldwell and Arlin make me feel better or worse about these cards?

Well, I'm not an idiot, so I already knew that the history of the Padres wasn't littered with All-Stars.  It's characters like these four that are important parts of the intricate tapestry that make up the fabric of my beloved Padres.  These are of course needed acquisitions to the collection, and they are also pretty cool in my book.  Thanks a lot Jim!

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