Sunday, July 14, 2013

1975 Caruso Sacramento Solons Baseball #5, Toby (a.k.a., Tommy) Bianco

Those are some very warm ears. It's not exactly Oscar Gamble circa 1974, but Toby Bianco owns admirable 1970s head insulation.

This card's a microcosm of most minor leaguers who taste the big leagues. Bianco showed power with AAA Sacramento (44 HR in 1974-75), earning a couple of 1975 call-ups, but collected just 5 singles and a double over 18 games with the Brewers, an extended cup of coffee that proved to be his whole MLB career.

Toby followed Milwaukee's AAA shuffle to Spokane in 1976, becoming their "most popular player" with fans, but the crowded MLB infield of Sal Bando, Robin Yount, Don Money, and Cecil Cooper (with Jim Gantner waiting in the wings), pushed Bianco to the streets in 1977.

Apr 6, 1977: the low point for Bianco fans

Toby ultimately did catch on elsewhere, spending three more seasons in the Tiger, Expo, and Oriole systems before retiring in 1979 (career stats).

Caruso printed 22 blank-backed cards for this set and those in bold went on to MLB careers, if not stardom. They didn't include any for the coaches, so I added this card of Solons manager Harry Bright, a baseball lifer whose playing, coaching, and scouting career stretched from age 16 to 70.
  1. Bob Hansen
  2. Dave Lindsey
  3. Tommie Reynolds
  4. Jack Lind
  5. Toby Bianco
  6. Bill McNulty
  7. Duane Espy
  8. Bob Sheldon
  9. George Vasquez
  10. Art Kusnyer
  11. Rob Ellis
  12. Jimmy Rosario
  13. Steve Bowling
  14. Rick Austin
  15. Tom Widmar
  16. Carl Austerman
  17. Carlos Velasquez
  18. Gordy Crane
  19. Roger Miller
  20. Bill Travers
  21. Pat Osborn
  22. Juan Lopez

Value: This #5 cost $3 at The annual SCD priced a full set at $15-20 and I haven't seen any in the marketplace to say otherwise.

Fakes / reprints: It'd be easy to reprint with modern equipment, but hard to find a market for them.

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