Wednesday, February 1, 2012

#11 - Ralph Houk

What a card: Well, well, the first non-subset card in the set isn't even of a player. In fact, it's not even of a manager who was managing when this set hit store shelves. Ralph Houk retired from managing in October of 1984. His replacement was John McNamara.

My observation on the front: This was the third straight year that Topps used manager cards that doubled as team checklists on the back. Topps would continue this practice through the 1980s. I'm all for manager cards, and I loved their reappearance in 1983. But I didn't like the checklist on the back. I preferred the 1978 Topps manager cards in which there was bio information and even player stats from the manager's playing days.

More observation from me: I like managers because they are a connection to a past era of baseball. "The Major" was managing in the early '60s for crying out loud! It was terrific to pull a card of someone who had that connection.

Something you might know: Houk was nicknamed "The Major" because that was his rank in the Army during World War II. He was a veteran of The Battle of the Bulge and awarded a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Silver Star.

Something you might not know: Houk had a fiery temper, which only occasionally led to a scene outside of an umpire's ejection. Houk was reported to have punched out actor/singer Gordon McRae, known for his performance in the musicals Oklahoma! and Carousel, for having a little too much fun dancing with Houk's wife. McRae was out cold for two minutes. "What can I say?" Houk said in Bill Madden's book, Pride of October, "It's all true."

My observation on the back: Well, at least Topps got his retirement announcement on there.

The blog wants to speak now: The News tab has been updated with a baseball trade that eventually helped affect the outcome of the 1985 A.L. playoffs.


Play at the Plate said...

I didn't realize he had retired earlier. I also didn't know about his war service. As usual, you're a fount of knowledge. Thank you sir.

Chris Stufflestreet said...

Actually, this was the first year where manager cards were used as team checklist cards. In 1982-'84, the team checklists appeared on the back of a card that showed each team's top pitcher and hitter.

The manager cards from 1983-'84 had statistics from the manager's playing and managing careers.

1967ers said...

Jim Bleepin' Sundberg. Gads. Right up there with Bill Madlock as one of the most loathed names in Jays history. (from the news tab)

What's the plan for the "other cards" tab? I have '84-85 and '85-86 hockey coming out my eyeballs. (It's awkward-looking, I admit.)

night owl said...

I'm strictly a baseball guy -- so they will only be baseball cards.

Chris ~


Mariner1 said...

I was glad that Topps kept using checklists on the backs. I lied better on the cards up to '81 with the team photo and player, #, and position on the back.