Phantom Cardboard: The Strange Case of the 1970 Seattle Pilots

1970 Seattle Pilotsby Kevin Kimmes

If you have been reading the site lately, you are well aware that I have started a daily column, The Numbers Game, which looks at past and current players in the Brewers organization based on their jersey numbers, including the 1969 Seattle Pilots, the team that would become the Brewers. That column will return tomorrow. Today I wanted to share something interesting that I discovered while doing my research over the past week: There are no Milwaukee Brewers cards that appear in the 1970 Topps baseball card set, however there are Seattle Pilots cards, cardboard representations of a team that never was.

So how did this happen? It’s a simple timing issue really. Every year Topps releases Series 1 of their baseball product prior to the start of the regular season. It’s an appetizer, if you will, to the upcoming baseball season. Due to the lead time required to get all images approved and printed, any last minute transactions, or in this case changes in name and venue, would not be able to be accounted for, thus cards for a team that never played a single inning. According to Chris Olds, editor of Beckett Baseball, this is one of two incidents like this, the other being in 1974 when some San Diego Padres cards were printed with “Washington Nat’l Lea.” on them.

To give you an idea of how small of a window the change in ownership created, the Pilots were officially declared bankrupt on April 1, 1970. The Brewers would play their first official home game at Milwaukee’s County Stadium on April 7th, 1970, a mere six days later.

Below is a checklist/breakdown of every player that appears in the set in a Pilots uniform and where they actually played in 1970:

#  2 Diego Sequi – Played for Oakland

# 31 Marty Pattin – Played for Milwaukee

# 53 John Kennedy – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being sold to Boston on June 26th, 1970.

# 88 Pilots Rookies (Miguel Fuentes & Dick Baney) – Probably the most tragic card of the set, Fuentes not only threw the final pitch for the Pilots in 1969, but was murdered during the off-season in his native Puerto Rico by a bar patron who thought Fuentes was relieving himself on his car. Baney, who also appears on the card, did not play in the majors in 1970.

#111 Mike Hegan – Played for Milwaukee

#134 Danny Walton RC – Played for Milwaukee

#158 Jerry McNertney – Played for Milwaukee

#185 Don Mincher – Played for Oakland

#224 Steve Barber – Played for both Chicago (NL) and Atlanta

#249 Bob Locker – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being sold to Oakland on June 15th, 1970.

#271 Greg Goossen – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being sold to Washington on July 14th, 1970.

#289 Gene Brabender – Played for Milwaukee

#323 Wayne Comer – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Washington on May 11th, 1970 for Hank Allen and Ron Theobald.

#359 Phil Roof – Played for Milwaukee

#370 Tommy Harper – Played for Milwaukee. Harper is the only player to be named to the 1970 American League All-Star squad from Milwaukee.

#393 John Gelnar – Played for Milwaukee

#418 John Donaldson – Played for Oakland

#441 John O’Donoghue – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Montreal on June 15th, 1970 for Jose Hererra.

#473 Don Bryant – Played for Houston

#499 Skip Lockwood – Played for Milwaukee

#514 Steve Hovley RC – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Oakland for Al Downing and Tito Francona on June 11th, 1970.

#533 Buzz Stephen RC – Did not play in the majors in 1970. MLB experience consists of 2 games with the Twins in 1968 in which he went 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA.

#556 Dave Bristol (MGR) – Managed for Milwaukee

#574 Bobby Bolin – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Boston for Al Yates on September 10th, 1970.

#596 Mike Hershberger – Played for Milwaukee

#613 Dave Baldwin – Played for Milwaukee

#652 Rich Rollins – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being released on May 13th, 1970 and signed by Cleveland the same day.

#667 Bob Meyer – Played for Milwaukee

#688 Ted Kubiak – Played for Milwaukee

#713 Pilots Team Card

If you would like to see what the cards look like, high quality scans of both the fronts and backs are available here. I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 7 of The Numbers Game.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

The Numbers Game: 6 Pack

Sal Bandoby Kevin Kimmes

Welcome back to The Numbers Game, where each day I look at former Brewers and Pilots who have worn that day’s jersey number. Today’s number was worn by Sal Bando, Billy Spiers and Jeff Cirillo during his second tour of duty. I must be talking about the number 6. Enjoy!

Seattle Pilots:

No player was assigned the number 6 in the Pilots organization in 1969.

Milwaukee Brewers:

Mike Hershberger – 1970: Hershberger was .235/.306/.316 in 49 games with the Brewers in their inaugural season, recording 23 hits and 10 walks. Hershberger has the dubious distinction of having lead the American League in sacrifice flies in 1966 with 7.

Ellie Rodriguez – 1971-73: Traded to the Brewers for Carl Taylor prior to the 1971 season, Rodriguez would serve as Milwaukee’s starting catcher. Despite playing in115 games in the ’71 campaign, he would record his second lowest batting average of his career (.210). Undaunted, Rodriguez would have a banner year in ’72 in which he would bat .285 (a career best) and be selected to his second All-Star team.

After splitting time behind the plate with Darrell Porter in ’73, Rodriguez was traded to the California Angels on October 22, 1973 as part of an 9 person trade.

Mike Hegan – 1974-76: You can find information on Hegan in the 4th installment of The Numbers Game.

Sal Bando – 1977-81: A 4 time All-Star selection (’69, ’72-’74) and 3 time World Series champion (’72-’74) while with the Athletics, Bando is best known to Brewers fans not for what he did on the field, but for what he did after he retired. Bando became the Brewers General Manager on October 8th, 1991 leading the team to only 1 winning season (1992)  in his 7+ seasons with the team. Many attribute that winning season, in which Milwaukee went 92-70 to the fact that most of the players on the squad were hold overs from previous general manager, Harry Dalton.

A mixture of low payroll, poor drafting and bad free-agent decisions would create a witches brew of disappointment for the franchise as they struggled to compete. To further exacerbate the situation, Paul Molitor was allowed to become a free agent due to a lack of urgency in offering him salary arbitration. Molitor would sign with the Blue Jays and go on to be the 1993 World Series MVP.

Bando’s tenure as GM would come to an end on August 12, 1999 when he was reassigned within the Brewers organization.

No player was assigned the number 6 in the Brewers organization from 1982 through 1988.

Bill Spiers – 1989-91: Spiers would wear number 6 for his first 3 seasons with Milwaukee, then change to number 9 for the next 3 seasons. As mentioned in the 1st installment of The Numbers Game, Spiers was the object of Gary Sheffield’s rage regarding being moved from shortstop to 3rd, claiming that Spiers was given the position because he was white and Sheffield was black.

A strange incident would befall Spiers while playing for the Astros in 1999. During the bottom of the 6th inning on September 24th, 1999, Spiers was attacked on the field by a 23 year old man at Milwaukee’s County Stadium. Spiers lost a contact, received a welt under his left eye, a bloody nose and whiplash from the ordeal. For more details on the incident, click here.

Andy Allanson – 1992: Appearing in only 9 games with Milwaukee in 1992, Allanson would bat a career best .320/.346/.360 with 8 hits and 1 walk. He would also be the last Brewer to wear the number 6 in the American League.

No player was assigned the number 6 in the Brewers organization from 1993 through 2001.

Jorge Fabregas – 2002: The first player to wear the number 6 for Milwaukee in the National League, Fabregas was acquired from the Angels along with Pedro Liriano in exchange for Sal Fasano and Alex Ochoa on July 31st, 2002. In 30 games, Fabregas would post a disappointing .164/.178/.343 with 11 hits and 2 walks in 67 at-bats.

Keith Ginter – 2003-04: After wearing number 1 in 21 appearances in 2002, Ginter would switch to number 6 for his next two seasons in Milwaukee. Acquired from the Astros along with Wayne Franklin for Mark Loretta and cash considerations, Ginter would bat .257/.344/.448 in his 3 seasons with Milwaukee with 211 hits and 89 walks. He would be named National League Player of the Week during the final week of the 2004 regular season in which he batted .407  with three homeruns and a league leading 11 RBIs. He also led the league with 25 total bases and .926 on-base percentage.

Jeff Cirillo – 2005-06: In his second appearance as a Brewer (he donned number 26 from 1994-99), Cirillo found his stroke again hitting for .281 in 2005 and .319 in 2006 after a 3 year power outage that saw his seasonal batting average dip to as low as .205 in 2003.

No player was assigned the number 6 in the Brewers organization from 2007 through 2012.

So, there you have it, the good, the bad and the ugly of the number 6. Come back tomorrow for a look at Don Money,  J.J. Hardy and everyone else who has worn the number 7.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.