I received a few Dodger cards from Adam of Cardboard Clubhouse recently. Among them was this 1977 Topps Dodgers team card. It's the first card to feature Tommy Lasorda as the Dodgers' manager.
I am nostalgic over team cards and have written a few posts wishing for their return. But I admit that when I was collecting at this time, I didn't pay a lot of attention to the photograph. The people were so tiny, there were so many of them. I had a bicycle to ride.
So I decided to take a closer look at this team photo for the first time. I spotted many of the familiar faces, Russell, Cey, Lopes Garvey, Baker. But my attention quickly turned toward the back row.
I think you can see it now. The fifth guy from the right, standing next to who I believe is Rick Rhoden, has his head down!
I know it must be difficult for a photographer to make sure 30-plus people are facing toward the camera, but come on! It's the team picture! There's a guy looking DOWN!
Who is that player?
If I read the number right, it is none other than No. 46, Happy Hooton.
(I need to upgrade this card. The holdover that I pulled when I was 11 years old is still filling the Dodger binder).
I suppose the "head down" look fits his sad-sack image that sparked the nickname "Happy". It makes for a pretty weird team photo, though. Let's see the card again.
All I can see is Happy looking down now. It reminds me of one of those creepy "Paul Is Dead" clues on the Beatles' Abbey Road album cover. But I'm happy to say that to the best of my knowledge Burt Hooton is still alive.
Adam sent me another Dodgers team card, from the very next year, and I picked out Hooton in the shot just to calm my concerns.
Nice of you to show your face, Happy.
Hooton is remembered for throwing a no-hitter for the Cubs, and for losing it on the mound in Philadelphia during the 1977 NLCS (the Dodgers got their revenge that series though).
But he was an important player during the Dodgers' World Series-winning season in 1981. He was named MVP of the 1981 NLCS against the Expos and won four games that postseason.
I dug out the rest of the Dodgers team cards that would have featured Hooton on the team. The images are quite a bit farther away on later cards so it gets kind of difficult to find him.
It's a nice clear day in L.A. on the '79 Topps card and not too hard to find Hooton with his head up and facing forward.
The image is much farther away in 1980. It's kind of a toughie, but I think I recognize Hooton as the second guy from the left in the back.
Father away, a cloudier day, and a much blurrier photo (registration looks off on this card). I believe I spot the No. 46 though and am happy to say that's probably Happy, facing forward.
I didn't need any identifying tools to figure out the players on the rest of the cards Adam sent.
Just good solid players (in most cases on good solid card stock) from the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
Now that we're so close to the start of the baseball season, all of these cards just make me look that much more forward to tomorrow and next week.
Head's up! It's the beginning of a season and the beginning of a new story!