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: 1 is the Loneliest Number

ray_oyler_autographby Kevin Kimmes

Loyal readers, welcome to 2013!

With today being the first day of the new year, and with just about 6 weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report, I thought it would be the perfect time to roll out a new daily column looking at jersey numbers throughout the years. Each day I will tackle a new number and try to share a little bit of information about each player that has worn it throughout the years as either a Seattle Pilot or Milwaukee Brewer.

So, without further ado, lets look at who was/is number 1.

1969 Seattle Pilots:

- Ray Oyler: The Pilots Opening Day shortstop, Oyler was a player whose career existed well below what is now known as the Mendoza Line. In 106 games with the Pilots in 1969, Oyler recorded 255 at-bats resulting in 42 hits, 31 walks and a meager batting average of .165.

1970-71 Milwaukee Brewers:

- Ted Kubiak: The number 1 remained with the shortstop position in 1970 despite a change in venue and a new player at the position. Kubiak played in 158 games (most on team) for Milwaukee in their inaugural season splitting time between shortstop and 2nd base. He finished 2nd in both hits (136) and walks (72).

Kubiak is best known for setting the Brewers record for most RBIs in a single game by a single player which he set with 7 on July 18th, 1970. The record has been tied three times since moving to the NL, once by Jose Hernandez (April 12th, 2001), just over a year to the day later by Richie Sexson (April 18th, 2002), and most recently by the man who currently wears jersey number 1, Corey Hart (May 23rd, 2011).

1971 Milwaukee Brewers:

- Jose Cardenal: Acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals (with Dick Schofield and Bob Reynolds) in a trade for Kubiak, Cardenal recorded the most RBIs of his carrier (80) between both clubs in 1971. Following the ’71 season, Cardenal was traded by Milwaukee to the Chicago Cubs for Brock Davis, Jim Colborn and Earl Stephenson.

1972-1976: Unissued

1977-78 Milwaukee Brewers:

- Tim Johnson: Johnson, who had been with Milwaukee since 1973, had previously worn number 4, but changed to number 1 in 1977 as 4 was passed on to Mike Hegan. Johnson, who had lost his starting shortstop position to Robin Yount, appeared in 33 games as a utility infielder between ’77 and ’78. During this time, Johnson showed batting ineptitude that makes Ray Oyler look like a batting champion (.061 in ’77, .000 in ’78) before being traded to Toronto during the ’78 season for our next entrant.

1978-79 Milwaukee Brewers:

- Tim Nordbrook: Out of all of today’s players, Nordbrook’s contribution to Brewers lore is the least. Nordbrook only appeared in 4 total games as a Brewer (2 per year) recording 1 whopping hit in 7 total at bats.

1980-84: Unissued

1985-1988 Milwaukee Brewers:

- Ernest “Earnie” Riles: Riles debuted mid-season in 1985 and got his career off to a promising start, finishing 3rd in AL Rookie of the Year balloting. Unfortunately, Milwaukee would never see Riles reach his full potential as a series of injuries kept him off the field. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Jeffrey Leonard in mid-1988.

1988-1989 Milwaukee Brewers:

- Gary Sheffield: The only man on today’s list who could be considered “locker-room cancer”, Sheffield was brought up from the minors when rosters expanded in 1988. He would go on to famously claim that the Brewers organization was racist for moving him from short to third and filling the vacancy with the white Billy Spiers instead of owning up to his own drop in production coupled with injury concerns possibly being responsible for the move.

1990-92: Unissued

Side-note: While no one was assigned the number 1 in 1992, Franklin Stubbs was assigned the number “0″. He would wear the “goose egg” on his back for only 1 season.

1993-94 Milwaukee Brewers:

Alex Dias: In three seasons with Milwaukee, Dias was a solid, yet unremarkable, outfielder. He batted .264 in 133 games and 256 plate appearances as a Brewer, and recorded only 1 home run during this time. Dias wore the number 18 in 1992 before changing to 1 in 1993.

1995-99 Milwaukee Brewers:

- Fernando Vina: The good: As a Brewer, Vina was a National League All-Star in 1998. The bad: Vina was mentioned in The Mitchell Report for having purchased HGH from Derek Sprang several times between 2000 and 2005. He would eventually come clean about his steroid use on an episode of Sports Center.

2000-02 Milwaukee Brewers:

- Luis Lopez: Acquired in a trade with the Mets for Bill Pulsipher prior to the 2000 season, Lopez batted .262 in 176 games for Milwaukee before being released on June 7th, 2002. After his release, the number was re-assigned to Keith Ginter who would switch to number 6 for the 2003 campaign.

2003-04: Unissued

2005-Present Milwaukee Brewers:

- Corey Hart: The final owner of jersey number 1 is none other than current Brewers 1st baseman Corey Hart. Hart, who moved to 1st in 2012 after injuries to Mat Gamel and Travis Ishikawa ended each of their respective seasons.

Hart is a two time NL All-Star, and as mentioned earlier is one of four players who are all tied for the single game team RBI mark.

Check back tomorrow for a look at the men who’ve worn number 2 over the years.

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.