Friday, December 27, 2019

1956 Topps #77 Harvey Haddix

This a crossover post from my other blog, chronicling each card in the wonderful 1956 Topps set. Today's post features former Phillies pitcher Harvey Haddix.  Please click on over there for all of the posts to date, including a look at all the Phillies Alumni featured in the set.

Harvey Haddix
St. Louis Cardinals

Bats:  Left  Throws:  Left  Height:  5'9"  Weight:  170
Born:  September 18, 1925, Medway, OH
Signed:  Signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent before 1947 season
Major League Teams:  St. Louis Cardinals 1952-1956; Philadelphia Phillies 1956-1957; Cincinnati Reds 1958; Pittsburgh Pirates 1959-1963; Baltimore Orioles 1964-1965
Died:  January 8, 1994, Springfield, OH (age 68)

1961 Topps #410
A three-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner, Harvey Haddix enjoyed a successful 14-year career in the big leagues, winning 136 games and a World Series ring with the 1960 Pirates.  His most famous feat was pitching a 12-inning perfect game against the Braves on May 26, 1959, a game he ultimately lost when the Braves scored an unearned run in the 13th inning.

Haddix was a 20-game winner in 1953, the first of his three years in a row to make the N.L. All-Star team.  That was his best season, as he went 20-9 with a 3.06 ERA, including 19 complete games and six shutouts.  He won at least 10 games in nine different seasons.  Given the nickname "Kitty" in part because of his fielding prowess on the mound, Haddix went the entire 1959 season without committing an error.  Some sources have him earning the nickname "The Kitten" due to his resemblance to Harry "The Cat" Brecheen (#229), while other sources note he had the nickname before ever becoming a teammate of Brecheen's.

In the 1960 World Series, Haddix started and won Game 5 and was the winning pitcher in Game 7 when Bill Mazeroski hit his game-winning home run against the Yankees' Ralph Terry.  Following his playing career, Haddix went on to coach for the Mets, Reds, Red Sox, Indians and Pirates.

Building the Set
December 11, 1996 from Winston-Salem, NC - Card #147
1982 Donruss #651
I was obsessed with the 1982 Donruss set when it came out.  I think it was a combination of the cards being much brighter than their 1982 Topps counterparts, more readily available than packs of 1982 Fleer and the addition of Diamond Kings cards.  The Babe Ruth puzzle didn't hurt either.  Cards of coaches were also a novelty to me, as I had never had any coach cards in my collection.  Haddix shows up in the 1982 Donruss set as a coach for the Pirates, and it struck me as odd to see someone who had to be at least 90 years old (a) in a baseball card set and (b) wearing the garish yellow jerseys of the Pirates, complete with black pillbox hat.  (Haddix was actually only 56 in 1981.)  Upon pulling the card from a pack, I assumed it had to be worth a small fortune.

I remember asking my Dad about Haddix and wanting to know more about the 12-inning perfect game he had thrown in 1959, only to have the Pirates ultimately lose the game.  My Dad had a vivid memory of that game and after he told me all about it, that 1982 Donruss card of an old coach became one of the most prized cards in my growing collection.

I have a vague memory of buying this card back in 1996 right before heading home from college for my winter break.  I paid $7 for the card from Tommy's Collectibles and I would have slipped it into my Dad's Christmas stocking as a Christmas present for "his collection."  When I could, I enjoyed tracking down cards of players that would have had some meaning to my Dad and me, and Haddix fit the bill.

The Card
It's strange to see an action shot of a pitcher as he appears to circle third, having lost his hat, and heading home.  Or is he beating out a play at first base?

Haddix had 1,575 career strikeouts, hitting the 150 strikeout plateau in five different seasons.  His fine 1953 season earned him second place in the N.L. Rookie of the Year voting behind the Dodgers' Jim Gilliam.  I believe this is the first appearance of a cartoon cat on the back of a 1956 Topps card.

1956 Season/Phillies Career
On May 11th, Haddix was traded with Ben Flowers and Stu Miller (#293) to the Phillies for Murry Dickson (#211) and Herm Wehmeier (#78).  Even though he originally didn't want to go to the Phillies, Haddix had a good season, compiling a record of 12-8 after tweaking his mechanics with the help of pitching coach Whit Wyatt.  He would have had 16 wins if not for four blown saves by the Phillies bullpen.  Following the season, and according to his SABR biography, manager Mayo Smith (#60) said the acquisition of Haddix had been the "year's most pleasant surprise."

Haddix was back in the Phillies starting rotation in 1957, appearing in 27 games and going 10-13 with a 4.06 ERA.  His inconsistency landed him in the bullpen for part of the season, but his best game came in July when he threw an 11-inning complete game shutout against the Cubs.  Haddix was dealt to the Reds following the 1957 season for outfielder Wally Post (#158).

Haddix appears in the 1957 Topps set with the Phillies, and a few years back I modified his original 1956 Topps card to update it for his actual team that season.

1953 Topps #273
1957 Topps #265
1959 Topps #184
1961 Topps #100
1965 Topps #67
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1953 Topps #273
First Topps Card:  1953 Topps #273
Representative Phillies Card:  1957 Topps #265
Last Topps Card:  1965 Topps #67
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2014 Panini Golden Age #74

108 - Haddix non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/23/19.

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Phillies Room
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

No comments: