1967 Topps #339 - Chico Ruiz
First up, Cuban infielder Chico Ruiz. After spending the first six years of his MLB career with the Reds, he was dealt to the Angels, where he'd see action in 144 games across the 1970 and 1971 seasons. Sadly, Chico died in a car accident outside San Diego shortly after becoming a US citizen early in 1972. He had been slated to play with the Royals for the '72 season. Ruiz makes the franken-set uncontested.
1967 Topps #126 - Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor first appeared in the big leagues with the Cubs, who had taken him in the 1957 Rule V draft. He was dealt to the Phillies early in the 1960 season though (which would be his lone All-Star season), and would be a mainstay in their lineup throughout the decade. Tony also makes the franken-set!
1967 Topps #206 - Dennis Bennett
This wasn't the card that had me chasing this particular lot, but I'm excited to add it to my buyback collection anyway. 1967 was one of the most memorable seasons in the history of my favorite franchise, so any Red Sox card from that year just feels significant to me.
Dennis wasn't around for that amazing late-season stretch and post-season run in '67, as he was traded to the Mets in late June. He did contribute four wins before he was traded though, including a complete game shutout where he clubbed a three-run home run! A great buyback for this Red Sox fan, happy to see that it made the franken-set without competition.
1967 Topps #282 - Johnny Odom
Johnny "Blue Moon" Odom was a hot pitching prospect coming out of high school. He floundered somewhat during his early career with the Kansas City A's, but became very effective (at least for stretches) once the club moved to Oakland and was a member of the staff for all three World Series champion A's teams of the '70s. No previous #282 buyback, Blue Moon is in!
Now, for the card that really drew me to this lot...
1967 Topps #280 - Tony Conigliaro
Any fan of baseball history likely already knows this, but early in his career Tony Conigliaro looked like he was on track to be one of the most dominant hitters in baseball history. In 1965 he led the American League in home runs as a 20-year-old, and the year this card was printed up he became the youngest American League player to reach 100 career home runs.
Tony seemed destined for super-stardom, and was selected as an All-Star in 1967 for the first time in his career. Tragically, just weeks later, he was beaned in the face and had to be carried off the field at Fenway Park on a stretcher. He'd miss the rest of the amazing '67 season, as well as all of 1968 before making his return. One has to wonder if the '67 post-season could have ended differently with his big bat in the lineup.
Conigliaro did put up one more monster year in 1970, to the tune of 36 home runs and 116 RBI, but there's no doubt the horrific injury he suffered took its toll. He was basically done as an MLB ballplayer after his age 26 season, save for a 21-game failed comeback stint with Boston in 1975. Tragically, Tony suffered a heart attack and corresponding stroke in 1982 while back in Boston to interview for a broadcasting job. He slipped into a coma that he'd never awaken from, finally passing away at age 45 in 1990.
It's a shame that Tony's career and life had the unfortunate twists and turns that it did, but he remains one of the more interesting figures in team history. I'm beyond excited to land this buyback of his 1967 release.
Franken-set Progress: 182/792 (23%)