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Card of the Week: 1968 Topps #287 White Sox Rookie Stars

Posted by Andy on February 13, 2010

Even though this is a baseball blog, I'm willing to bet that most of the readers have never heard of either of the two players featured on this card--Mickey Abarbanel and Cisco Carlos. (Neither had I, before writing this post.)

This card, from what many people consider a classic set, features two young players on a single card. Generally this was done to enable a set to feature more players without having to add more cards to the set and also to hedge bets on which players would be successful. In other words, by picking two young players there was a decent chance that at least one would stick in the majors for some time and the card would carry some interest. This 1968 set featured numerous rookie cards with better players, such as #177 Mets Rookies with Jerry Koosman and Nolan Ryan. Other dual rookie cards in this set feature Johnny Bench, Lou Piniella, and Hal McRae.

Before discussing the players I wanted t speak briefly about the card itself.  Old logos are great and the interlocking S-O-X seen here is no exception. One thing I never understood about Topps baseball cards, though, was the large fraction of posed shots with shadows over the players' faces. Both of these guys are in the shadows.  The back of the card (see below) shows a rarity for baseball card copy--an exclamation point!

Now on to the players themselves. Let's start with Abarbanel. From his minor league stats we can see that he was a great strikeout pitcher, averaging about 1 K per inning. His B-R bullpen article corroborates the numbers but also suggests that he was limited by injuries. In any event, he never made it to the majors.

At least from the point of view of major league stats, Cisco Carlos is the more interesting case here. His rookie year of 1967 stands out due to an ERA of 0.86 over 8 games (7 starts) and 41.2 IP. Furthermore, in those 41.2 innings he allowed only 23 hits and 9 walks while striking out 27.

Indeed, Carlos' performance was record-setting. It turns out that in those 7 starts he didn't allow a single extra-base hit, and that is the post-1954 record for most consecutive such starts at the beginning of a career:

1 Cisco Carlos 1967-08-25 1967-09-24 7 2 0 7 1 1 0 0 40.2 23 5 4 8 27 0 0.89 1 1 0 CHW
2 John Pacella 1979-09-18 1980-06-07 5 0 2 5 0 0 0 0 19.2 21 11 10 11 15 0 4.58 0 0 1 NYM
3 Karl Spooner 1954-09-22 1955-06-28 5 3 1 5 2 2 0 0 30.2 23 12 9 13 39 0 2.64 0 1 0 BRO
4 Felix Hernandez 2005-08-04 2005-08-20 4 2 1 4 0 0 0 0 29.0 16 5 4 4 30 0 1.24 1 1 0 SEA
5 Ned Garver 1954-04-17 1954-05-08 4 3 0 4 3 1 0 0 35.0 23 3 2 6 8 0 0.51 0 0 0 DET
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/9/2010.

Ned Garver comes up on the search but he doesn't actually belong on the list because his career started before 1954 (but the search is only 1954 and onwards.) Karl Spooner started in 1954 so his entry here is valid.

There is a host of other pitchers tied at a streak of 3 such games, including Vin Mazzaro last year for Oakland.

In fact, Carlos has the longest streak of consecutive starts without allowing an extra base hit at the beginning of  any post-1954 season, regardless of whether it was the first of a player's career:

мебель в болгарии

1 Cisco Carlos 1967-08-25 1967-09-24 7 2 0 7 1 1 0 0 40.2 23 5 4 8 27 0 0.89 1 1 0 CHW
2 Felix Hernandez 2005-08-04 2005-08-20 4 2 1 4 0 0 0 0 29.0 16 5 4 4 30 0 1.24 1 1 0 SEA
3 Trevor Wilson 1989-06-30 1989-07-19 4 1 2 4 0 0 0 0 19.1 14 7 7 14 13 0 3.26 1 0 0 SFG
4 Tommy Boggs 1977-04-13 1977-04-30 4 0 2 4 0 0 0 0 19.0 25 11 11 7 11 0 5.21 1 1 0 TEX
5 Jack Lamabe 1966-05-30 1966-06-13 4 3 1 4 3 2 0 0 34.0 13 2 2 7 18 0 0.53 1 0 1 CHW
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/9/2010.

Pretty good stuff there.

Carlos was never able to reproduce the success of his first season and after a few more season in the majors he went down to the minors and never made it back to the show.

13 Responses to “Card of the Week: 1968 Topps #287 White Sox Rookie Stars”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Cisco is a good find. I've never heard of him, but I've got to imagine he had Sox fans excited when he came up. Players like that are interesting, in how their effect on contemporary fans weighs against history. If Joba Chamberlain had never done anything after 2007, I think a generation of Yankee fans would remember him fondly, but with barely half as many IP as Cisco our kids would never get it.

    Good to be reminded of Karl Spooner. I figure he got a lot of Brooklyn fans excited back at the height of the Bums era...

  2. SJBlonger Says:

    I remember Cisco Carlos's great start, and this card, from my childhood (as a Sox fan). But I have no recollection of Mickey Abarbanel -- not surprising, I guess, since he never made the majors.

  3. steven Says:

    I think Cisco Carlos was also featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in early 1968 with a few other "future stars." The impressive thing about his 1967 performance with the White Sox was that it happened in the heat of a classic pennant race.

  4. cubbies Says:

    whats that link in russian????
    otherwize, is a great post, and i never realized until you said it that exclamation points are rarely seen in baseball cards. now that i think abuout it, i realize how true it is.

  5. salvo Says:

    How come Pacella and Spooner don't show up on the second list, but Felix does?

  6. Chuck Says:

    Cisco Carlos currently lives in Phoenix where he owns a successful kitchen and bath home remodeling company and can be found frequently working instructional camps with the Arizona Major League Alumni. He's a real nice guy.

  7. Tomepp Says:

    Perhaps Topps is claiming that Carlos' ERA was 0.86 factorial, though I'm not sure how you interperet factorials for fractional numbers...

  8. Mr. Dave Says:

    The shadows were probably due to Topps taking their photographs outside during spring training. Majority of the shadow on the faces of the players correlate with the hat, and would be contingent on the location of the sun at the time of the photograph.

  9. Whiz Says:

    Tomepp, factorials of fractional numbers are known as the gamma function -- or more precisely, the gamma function is a continuous function whose integer values happen to be factorials: n! = Gamma(n+1). For n=0.86 the result is about 0.95 (not that different!).

  10. Tomepp Says:

    Hi Whiz:

    As a math teacher, I am aware of the gamma function and its correllation to factorials (though technically, the factorial function is defined only over the positive integers). My comment was meant as a joke - though I'm always pleased when I get an even more "mathy" response to a geeky comment!

  11. tmckelv Says:

    You gotta love the 1979 Mets. John Pacella has the second most Non-extra base hit starts at the beginning of his career (5). But still manages less than 4 innings per start, 4.58 ERA and 0-2 record.

  12. JDV Says:

    I remember both Aberbanel and Carlos...but only from that '68 card, my first year collecting. It's amazing how familiar a baseball card can still be after not seeing it for over 40 years, but there are explanations. One, when a kid's collection grows by only one pack per week -- as was the case -- there was time to study and memorize everything on every card. Two, the 6-year-old mind is a sponge. Three, the entire output for the hobby was that single 598-card set...and a few game cards. Thanks for the memory.

  13. Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog Archive » Notes Says:

    [...] card and some stats about the player(s) on the card. So far there have been two installments: 1968 Topps White Sox Rookie Stars and 1981 Fleer Lonnie [...]