Thursday, May 24, 2012


Here's one from the Topps' genus “scrubicus lookupicus”...

In the '60s and '70s, Topps employed a number of tactics to hedge their bets against player movement.

One favorite was the no-cap shot. These unadorned profile pictures obviated the need for any touch-up effort if a player switched teams.

You can find an abundance of no-caps in the 1969 set, where it appears that Topps just threw up their corporate hands in the face of the addition of four expansion teams that year.

The other mainstay was the under-cap pose, demonstrated so ably by this 1973 Rich Chiles. Here the player was encouraged to tilt their head upward a bit, while the Topps photographer crouched down and fired away.

While this did not flatter the physiognomy of the affected players, the advantage for Topps was that it required a minimum of airbrushing effort to represent a player with his new team.

Rich Chiles was likely wearing an Astros lid in the original photo that appears on this card, but with a thin slathering of royal blue and a couple of dabs of orange to represent the logo, voila-- instant Met.

Rich came to the Mets along with Buddy Harris in the trade that sent Tommie Agee to Houston in November of 1972. His career with the team was limited to 25 April at bats and a .120 average for the pennant-winning 1973 squad.

In the 3rd inning of an eventual 13-3 win over the Expos on April 22, he plated Ed Kranepool with a double off Steve Renko, his only RBI in the orange and blue.

Rich went on to have a couple of solid seasons as a pinch hitter and backup for the Twins in 1977 and 1978, before retiring in 1980 at the age of 30.

And here's a parting shot of trivia: Rich Chiles is the cousin of '20s Hall-of-Famer George “Highpockets” Kelly.

As it happens, back around 1973, I used to write letters to retired Hall-of-Famers seeking autographs. And this is the signed yellow plaque that Highpockets sent in response to my request...