Tuesday, October 5, 2010

1967 Topps Twins Team Card with Oliva, Carew, Killebrew and Graig Nettles

Today's entry in my collection of 1967 Topps Autographed Baseball cards has a long story behind the four signatures. The newest signature on the card of that of Graig Nettles, rookie third baseman of the 1967 Minnesota Twins. The card was already signed by Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew and former Twins star, Tony Oliva.

If you want to read the blog entry about the Harmon Killebrew addition, click here.

If you want to read about the Rod Carew and Tony Oliva signatures, click here. The 1967 Topps Minnesota Twins Team card is card number 211 in the set of 609 subjects.

The Graig Nettles' signature was obtained for me by my friend and Graig's son, Mike. I have known Mike for about a year and as we have become good friends, I desired to ask Mike if he would help me with my collection. Mike and his wife, Beverly invited some friends over to watch the 2010 Tennessee/Florida College Football game at their house in Knoxville and I was honored to attend. In anticipation, I went through my collection of baseball cards and Sports Illustrated Magazines and found several Graig Nettles items. Mike offered to get his dad to sign the items for me and on September 27th, Mike called me and said he had the cards and Sports Illustrated autographed by Graig. Graig Nettles signed my cards with a black sharpie in his classic autograph.

Graig also lives in the Knoxville area now and I hope one day I will have the privilege to meet him and thank him personally for the autographs. In the meantime, I hope Graig and the entire Nettles' family understands my gratitude for helping me with my collection. This autograph is the 511th signature in my collection of 1967 Topps Baseball cards and the first card that has four signatures!

Graig Nettles' career in Major League Baseball lasted from 1967 to 1988. On September 6, 1967, Nettles was called up from the Twins' AA minor league team in Charlotte, North Carolina. He appeared in 3 games in the 1967 season with 1 double in 3 at bats. Graig played parts of two more seasons with the Twins in 1968 and 1969 before being involved in a 6 player deal with the Cleveland Indians. He started a run of three seasons with the Indians and blossomed into a star, averaging 24 home runs and 72 runs batted in. In the winter of 1972, Graig was again involved in a 6 player trade, this time with the New York Yankees. In New York, Graig played for 11 seasons, helping the team win 4 American League Pennants and 2 World Series Championships. He was named the Yankees captain from 1982 to 1984, which is a honor bestowed upon some of the Greatest Yankees. The list includes Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly and currently Derek Jeter.

Before the start of the 1984 season, Graig was traded from the Yankees to his hometown, San Diego Padres. His veteran leadership was instrumental with the Padres. The Padres made their first playoff appearance and won the 1984 National League Pennant before losing to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. After three seasons with the Padres, Graig became a free agent and signed on with the Atlanta Braves in 1987 and then again with the Montreal Expos in 1988.

During his 22 year career, which ended on October 1, 1988, Graig Nettles had played in 2700 games while batting .248 with 390 home runs and 1,314 runs batted in . He still holds the American League record of home runs by a third baseman. Always a superb fielder, Graig won 2 Gold Glove Awards and had a career .964 fielding percentage. Graig continues to be remembered for his clutch performances in the post season. His glove work in the playoffs helped the Yankees gain the momentum in the 1978 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Nettles appeared in 6 All-Star games during his career and won the 1981 American League Championship Series MVP award. Many people believe Graig Nettles deserves Hall of Fame consideration and I would give my vote as well.

To learn more about Graig Nettles, go to his biography at wikipedia.org.  I also encourage you to read his book, "Balls" written in 1983 with Peter Golenbeck and published before the start of the 1984 season. As Graig chronicles his career, this book gives a great insight to major league baseball from an insider's perspective.

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