Sunday, September 27, 2015

One and done players, update 3

Friday was One-Hit Wonder Day, according to a few of your favorite pop-culture outlets. As a pop-music aficiostorian (that's "aficionado" and "historian" combined into one terribly appropriate new description), this got my attention. I have indeed watched many a VH1 countdown show, chronicling the greatest one-hit wonders, from start to finish.

As is often the case in these "one-hit wonder" lists, some of them miss the point of "one-hit wonder." One hit means one hit. No more. A-Ha, often considered a one-hit wonder for "Take On Me," actually had another minor hit with its second single in the United States, called "The Sun Always Shines On TV," which went to No. 20. I remember it being played on the radio. Therefore, not a one-hit wonder. Same deal with Quarterflash, Men Without Hats, John Parr, Animotion and a bunch of others that are classified as "one-hit wonders." They had other songs that climbed the charts.

That's why Peter Schilling's "Major Tom" is one of my favorite "one-hit wonders." Not only is it and always will be a bitching song, but you won't see Peter Schilling's name on another American hit in the Billboard Top 40. That was his one hit.

So how does this translate to baseball cards? Well, Wrigley Roster Jenga did a nice Cubs-themed take on the one-hit wonder the other day. It got me thinking about my own take, and then I realized "I have my own take already!"

It's the One-And-Done Players series.

I haven't written a One-And-Done post in over a year, mostly because each one takes too much time. But just to refresh your memory, these posts pay tribute to players who received one card -- and only one card -- in a mass-released set. The player didn't appear on a multi-player rookie card or any other card set (with the exception of minor league issues, those are allowed).

These are true one-hit wonders in the card world. In fact, I'm going to rename this series from "One-and-Done" to "One-Card Wonders". (I believe Chris from Stale Gum, in compiling a list from to help with my research, used this term, too).

For today's version of One-Card Wonders, I settled on a single set, because there's no time again. And that set is one I enjoy more than any other.

It's 1975 Topps.

I know this set so well that it wasn't too difficult to pin down the one-card wonders. There are five of them. Here is the list:

#288 - Bruce Ellingsen, Indians
#407 - Herb Washington, A's (NEWLY ADDED!)
#508 - Bob Hansen, Brewers
#524 - John Doherty, Angels
#587 - Chris Ward, Cubs
#651 - John Morlan, Pirates

That's your whole list. Bruce Ellingsen's cap-less card appeared for only one year, in the first year I collected cards, just to torment me. Thank goodness the Dodgers got Pedro Guerrero for him to alleviate my misery. Here are the links to my thoughts on all five players' cards.

It's interesting to me that four of the cards appeared in the last 160 cards in the set. Even though Topps had stopped issuing sets in series in 1973, I think they still had an order to how the set was created, and I'll bet the higher-numbered cards still contained "throw-ins" like these guys to fill out the set. They just had to set them aside initially in case someone more notable was available for the set.

So the 1975 set goes with the other sets that I've already researched for the renamed "One-Card Wonders":

1974 Topps:

#8 - George Theodore, Mets (NEWLY ADDED!)
#33 - Don Newhauser, Red Sox
#37 - Dave Sells, Angels
#77 - Rich Troedson, Padres
#421 - Dan Fife, Twins
#457 - Chuck Goggin, Braves
#573 - Mike Adams, Twins 

1975 Topps

#288 - Bruce Ellingsen, Indians
#508 - Bob Hansen, Brewers
#524 - John Doherty, Angels
#587 - Chris Ward, Cubs
#651 - John Morlan, Pirates

1980 Topps:

#59 - Eddy Putman, Tigers
#72 - Fred Howard, White Sox
#156 - Tony Brizzolara, Braves
#221 - Joe Cannon, Blue Jays
#233 - LaRue Washington, Rangers
#291 - Randy Scarberry, White Sox
#347 - Harry Chappas, White Sox

1981 Topps:

 #491 - Gordy Pladson, Astros

1982 Topps:

#356 - Denny Lewallyn, Indians

1984 Topps:

#116 - George Bjorkman, Astros
#159 - Darryl Cias, A's
#163 - Lorenzo Gray, White Sox
#337 - Kevin Hagen, Cardinals
#382 - Chris Nyman, White Sox
#474 - Greg Bargar, Expos

1994 Topps:

#491 - John Hope, Pirates

As always, it's possible I may have missed a major-issue card of one of the listed '75 players. If you know one -- again, minor league issues excluded -- let me know, and I'll cross that player off the One-Card Wonder list.

After all, the last thing I want to be doing is telling people Men Without Hats' only hit was "Safety Dance".


  1. "(T)he last thing I want to be doing is telling people Men Without Hats' only hit was "Safety Dance"."

    So what you're saying is that the Men Without Hats became the Men Without Work?

    I don't really like pop music old or new but I've found myself enjoying Todd In The Shadow's One Hit Wonder Retrospectives. I've found I can tolerate a lot of one hitters like Groove Is In The Heart.

  2. Any post about pop music and baseball cards piques my interest. Thanks!

  3. I'm doing one hit wonders in NASCAR and Basketball on Cardboard history...or at least in theory, I have not done any in a few months now. I have never thought to look at sets to see which ones had the most. I'm going to have to steal your idea...eventually.

  4. Thanks for the shout out, it's always nice to know I'm not just talking to myself. This is a wonderful concept that I thought about doing myself for a few minutes... before I realized that I'm waaaaayyyyy too team-centric to really dedicate myself to such an undertaking. I look forward to seeing more!

  5. Hell yeah! Off to play Safety Dance while I finish reading and commenting on blogs. Such a great song.

  6. Replies
    1. Good one! The guy who likes marshmallow milkshakes! I'll add it to the list.

  7. I think you're right on the money with how obscure some of the players in the upper end of the '75 set are. I have more than half that set signed. All five of the one-hit wonders listed are fairly good signers and not that difficult to get. That's not always the case with fringe major leaguers. For some of them, their sigs can be the hardest ones to find for a set.

    Love the pop music references. If one-hit wonders are defined by the number of appearances in the American Top 40, many of my favorite singer/songwriters are one-hit wonders but in fact have had productive, lengthy and successful careers. Warren Zevon, Randy Newman, Graham Parker, Steve Forbert and Bruce Cockburn all come immediately to mind. All had their one hit in the late 70's Other than Zevon, who passed away in 2003, all are still active and have enjoyed forty-year careers with dozens of CDs released and enjoyed by many. They just haven't had many days in the sun on the Billboard singles charts. I had to qualify the definition because each of them had other songs in the lower reaches of the Hot 100 at some point or other. Even more rare is that artist that hit # 1 on the Billboard chart but never had another even Hot 100 single. "Pop Muzik" by M and "Chariots of Fire" by Vangelis are two such examples.

  8. Haven't done extensive research but think Herb Washington is a candidate for the 1975 list. If not, curious what other cards he's on.

    1. Damn, how could I miss Herb? He's added to the list.