1978 Topps #359 - Marc Hill
Leading off a trio of '78 buybacks is catcher Marc Hill. Marc spent 14 years in Major League Baseball, primarily as a backup catcher. He played for a few different teams, but his most significant stints were with the Giants for 5+ years, and the White Sox for the final 6 years of his pro career. This card has some competition in terms of franken-set induction:
1978 Topps #297 - Warren Brusstar
Warren Brusstar was a California kid, who made his MLB debut with the Phillies in 1977. Though he saw action as both a starter and a reliever in the minor leagues, he was used strictly in relief throughout his 9-year MLB career, never starting a game. His biggest claim to fame is probably that he was a member of the 1980 World Series Champion Phillies club. When it comes to the franken-set Warren has an obstacle to overcome as well:
1978 Topps #296 - Biff Pocoroba
The last of the '78s features backstop Biff Pocoroba. A nice shot of Biff donning the "tools of ignorance" here, though it pales in comparison to photo on his '76 Topps release which looks like it was taken in a trailer park. This is my favorite of the three '78s in today's post, but like with the other two there's a card standing between this one and the franken-set binder:
1979 Topps #247 - Tucker Ashford
Let's keep moving on here with a batch of a half dozen '79s. Tucker Ashford fills an empty binder slot for the first time today! This is actually the second Ashford card to make the franken-set, as Gavin sent me his '78 release just before Christmas last year.
1979 Topps #14 - Rafael Landestoy
Rafael Landestoy looks awfully surprised here, I wonder what the photographer said to him before snapping this shot? I really don't know much about Rafael, who played his last MLB game just after I turned two years old, and who possesses a lifetime batting average of just .237.
1979 Topps #472 - Craig Kusick
Craig Kusick played his entire career with the Twins, except for his final season (1979) when the Blue Jays bought out his contract mid-year. To me, he looks in this picture like he would have fit nicely in one of those Saturday Night Live "Bill Swerski's Super Fans" sketches. What do you think? Either way, this card makes the franken-set in the absence of any competition.
1979 Topps #113 - Pete Redfern
Here's another one that makes the franken-set uncontested. Pete Redfern was a longtime Minnesota Twin as well, in fact they are the only Major League franchise he ever pitched for. Pete's career declined fast; in 1982 he was the Opening Day starter for Minnesota, by the end of 1983 he was out of baseball entirely after an elbow injury and then a severe car accident cut his career short. This one makes the franken-set, and joins Redfern's '78 issue as his second card in the binder.
1979 Topps #528 - Wayne Gross
Wayne Gross, who looks absolutely disgusted here, played for 11 seasons with the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles. He clubbed 22 home runs and was selected as an All-Star during his rookie year in 1977. The most random bit of baseball trivia on Wayne is that he appeared briefly (as a relief pitcher) in the 1994 movie "Angels in the Outfield". As my first #528 buyback he makes the cut for the set.
1979 Topps #688 - Mike Willis
Last '79 Topps buyback for today features southpaw Mike Willis. Mike stood at 6'2", though he looks about 8' tall in this photograph.
I would venture a guess that the high point of Mike's career was reached on September 20th, 1978. Mike was thrown in as a spot starter for Toronto that day (one of only two starts he made on the season), and had to face off against Ron Guidry of the Yankees, who was enjoying one of the finest pitching seasons to date with a 22-2 record and a sub-2.00 ERA at the time. In an outcome that few could have predicted, Guidry was hammered hard by the Jays and was pulled during just the second inning, whereas Willis threw a complete game and allowed just one run. This was just the third (and final) time that Guidry lost a decision in '78. Another bit of random trivia...all three of Guidry's losses that year came at the hands of opposing pitchers named Mike!
With a card number of 688 I thought for sure this would be a franken-set need, but amazingly enough that slot is already filled:
1980 Topps #8 - Craig Swan
We close out today's post with a 1980 buyback featuring pitcher Craig Swan. Swan played most of his career for sub-par Mets teams in the late '70s and early '80s. The lone footnote of significance that I could find on Craig was that he led the NL in ERA in 1978, which probably went largely unnoticed at the time since the Mets were so bad (hell, the team's #1 starter Jerry Koosman lost 20 games the previous year!).
Prior to the 2017 Topps buyback program, buybacks from the '80s were somewhat tough to come by so this one could add some nice variation to the binder. In order to do so however, it will have to bump this card:
Like I said, this wasn't the most thrilling group of cards, but in a project of this magnitude they can't all be superstars. These did push me up another percentage point towards completion at least, and my pile of rejected buybacks has now reached triple digits!
Franken-set Progress: 321/792 (41%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 103
Total Buybacks in Collection: 424