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: Enter the 5th Dimension

George Scottby Kevin Kimmes

Welcome back to another installment of The Numbers Game. Today we’ll be looking at every player who has ever worn the number 5 for the Pilots and Brewers, including the ever colorful George Scott and former slugger Geoff Jenkins. So, let’s get down to business.

Seattle Pilots:

Don Mincher – 1969: As mentioned in yesterday’s article, the Pilots had two All-Star selections in 1969: the previously mentioned Mike Hegan and Mincher. The interesting thing here is that Mincher is the only Pilot to have actually played in an All-Star game as Hegan, selected as a reserve, did not see play.

Mincher is also one of five Twins players (including  Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rich Rollins, and Zoilo Versalles) to have hit a homerun in the 7th inning of the June 9, 1966 contest against the Kansas City Athletics. The five home runs in a single inning still stand as a Major League record for the most home runs batted in a single inning. The hits were given up by Catfish Hunter and Paul Lindblad.

Milwaukee Brewers:

Phil Roof – 1970-71: A great defensive catcher who was not really known for his bat, Roof recorded a career best 13 home runs for the fledgeling Milwaukee club in 1970. Early in 1971, Roof would suffer a concussion on a ball pitched by Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven.  Three months later, he would find himself traded to the Twins where he would catch for Blyleven in just his second appearance for Minnesota.

Paul Ratliff – 1971: The third former/future Twin on today’s list, is Paul Ratliff. A sub-Mendoza Line batter (.171 in ’71 and .071 in ’72), Ratliff was acquired from the Twins for the previously mention Roof in 1971, acquiring his previously worn number 5 (he would switch to 17 in ’72). He was traded to the California Angels on July 28, 1972 and never again appeared in a major league game.

George “Boomer” Scott – 1972-76: The first player on today’s list who didn’t play for the Twins is the one-of-a-kind Scott. George was a 3 time American League All-Star (’66, ’75, ’77) and an 8 time Gold Glove award winner (’67-’68 and ’71-’76). Offensively, Scott hit over 20 homeruns (which he refered to as “taters”) six times in his career, and tied Reggie Jackson for the most in the AL in 1975 with 36,  a career-high.

Known for his sense of humor, Scott wore a distinctive necklace which he told a reporter was made of the 2nd baseman’s teeth, and nicknamed his 1st baseman’s glove “Black Beauty”. Scott is also well known for wearing a batting helmet while in the field, something he started doing while with Boston in the 60′s after opposing fans pelted him with objects while playing on the road.

Jamie Quirk – 1977: Quirk played one season with Milwaukee in which he went .217/.251/.330 with 48 hits and 8 walks in 93 games.

Tony Muser – 1978: In his final year in the majors, Muser only appeared in 16 games for Milwaukee where he recorded an underwhelming .133/.212/.233 with 4 hits and three walks in 30 at bats.

No player was assigned the number 5 in the Brewers organization in 1979.

Ned Yost – 1980-83: Used primarily as a backup catcher, Yost spent the first 4 years of his playing career in Milwaukee. He had his best hitting season as a member of “Harvey’s Wallbangers” in 1982 recording a stat line of .276/.324/.429 with 27 hits and 7 walks over the span of 40 games.

Yost would return to Milwaukee as manager in 2003 where he would take the team from perennial losers to championship contenders. He would be fired from the team on September 15, 2008 after the team went into a two week long tailspin en-route to a wildcard playoff appearance.

Doug Loman – 1984-85: In Loman’s only 2 seasons in the majors, he had a career stat line of .246/.325/.366 with 35 hits and 16 walks in 47 games.

No player was assigned the number 5 in the Brewers organization in 1986.

B.J. Surhoff – 1987-95: Drafted 1st overall by the Brewers in the 1985 amateur draft, Surhoff would make a career for himself based on both consistency and versatility. He batted over .280 in 12 of his 19 major league seasons and appeared at every defensive position, other than pitcher, throughout this time. Despite these accomplishments, Surhoff would only be selected to the All-Star game one time (1999). He finished his career with 2,326 hits and 1,153 RBIs.

No player was assigned the number 5 in the Brewers organization in 1996.

Kelly Stinnett – 1997: The final player to wear number 5 for Milwaukee in the AL is Kelly Stinnett. In 44 games for Milwaukee between ’96 (wearing number 11) and ’97, Stinnett was .177/.250/.244 with 11 hits and 5 walks.

Geoff Jenkins – 1998-2007: Playing all but his final season with Milwaukee, Jenkins ranks 3rd on the Brewers all-time home run list behind Hall of Famer Robin Yount and Prince Fielder. To add to this accolade, Geoff hit over .300 in both his 2nd and 3rd seasons in the majors (.313 in ’99 and .303 in ’00), was named team MVP in 2000 and was selected to the National League All-Star team via the All-Star Final Vote contest in 2003.

After declining Jenkins option for 2008 on October 30, 2007, Geoff would go on to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies on December 20, 2007. As a member of the 2008 Phillies, his team would defeat the Brewers in the NLDS en-route to winning the World Series. Jenkins would be released by the Phillies at the end of Spring Training in 2009.

Jenkins would retire from baseball as a Milwaukee Brewer on on July 9th, 2010.

Ray Durham – 2008: Acquired in a trade with the Giants for prospects Steve Hammond and Darren Ford in July of 2008, Durham would finish his major league career as a Brewer. He would bat .280/.369/.477 in 41 games with 30 hits and 15 walks.

No player was assigned the number 5 in the Brewers organization in 2009 and 2010.

Taylor Green – 2011-12: Debuting on August 31st, 2011 as a pinch hitter, Green singled in his first at bat. He would average .270 in 37 at bats for Milwaukee that year. Due to the acquisition of Aramis Ramirez in 2012, Green’s current role is that of utility infielder and pinch hitter.

I’ll be back tomorrow to look at those players who wore number 6.

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.