Friday, May 22, 2009

Card Spotlight: 5-22-09

1972 Topps #618 - Rich Robertson

This card should not exist. Plain and simple. Rich Robertson never played a regular season game with the White Sox. Not one!

The picture is clearly airbrushed to incorporate the 1972 uniform and hat of the Chicago White Sox. Rich Robertson spent his entire career with the San Francisco Giants. He was drafted by them in 1965 and played with the big league club from 1966 until 1971.

In 1972, something odd happened. On February 7, 1972, Rich was purchased by the Chicago White Sox. OK, so we found out why he is airbrushed into a White Sox uniform. But then, the White Sox gave him back to the Giants on March 19, 1972.

Could this be a case of buyer beware? Possibly. The Giants didn't appear to eager to have him back in the fold. He was released on March 27, 1972. Rich never played in another MLB game.

Someone at Topps must have thought that they were getting a smart scoop on the new season. The Sox bought this guy from the Giants, so they must want him bad enough. He'll be on the team this year. Nobody buys a player from another team to have him sit on the shelf.

In thinking that way, Topps was right. This is why Rich was shipped back to the Giants. The White Sox didn't want a player that they bought collecting dust in the minor leagues. Looking at statistics from 1970, it's a wonder that any team would want Rich on their team.

Rich led the National League in wild pitches with 18! He only appeared in 41 games and started 26 that year. He was ninth in the NL with 96 walks. In 1971, he was used sparingly and mostly in relief. This leads me to believe that either he was injured or he just lost his stuff and was sent down to the minors. His last game with the Giants was on July 20, 1971, so it's interesting that the Sox would purchase him the following February.

Apparently, the White Sox made the correct move. The Sox finished second in the AL West, five and a half games behind the Oakland Athletics, who won the World Series that year.

It still amazes me what can be uncovered by studying a baseball card. Mysteries get solved and new mysteries pop up to replace them. There's still plenty to learn from vintage cards.


night owl said...

I love cards in which a player is depicted with a team for which he never played.

There needs to be a name for cards like that.

Billy Suter said...

Dave Duncan's last card ('77T, I believe) is another one of these. The team he was pictured with, but never played for? The White Sox.

Steve Gierman said...

Good eye! Dave Duncan was released right before the 1977 season by the White Sox, after being traded to them in November 1976.

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