Now I did a review of the 1978 Topps set a few months back. Simple design, cursive Team name on the lower left corner. Position inside a floating baseball. Nothing too fancy, but effective. Today's subject is a player who's career can be described in a similar fashion. The player in question is Willie Montañez, 14 year veteran of the majors. A first baseman who travelled all over the country practicing his craft. From the Angels to the Phillies, Giants, Braves, Mets, Rangers, Padres, Expos, Pirates, and finally back to the Phillies, Montañez was known as a "hot dog" of sorts.
In 1977, as a member of the Atlanta Braves, he was named to the NL All-Star team (his first and only appearance to the midseason classic) thanks in part to 13 home runs, 41 rbi's, and a .313 batting average. His second half was not as strong as the first, but he still had a good year with the Braves. At the end of the year, he was involved in a very complex four-team trade, that saw him and ten other players moved around. By the time the dust settled, he wound up going to the New York Mets. He lasted more than a year and a half with the Mets before being traded to the Rangers, but while there, hit 22 home runs, 143 rbi's, to go along with a .247 batting average.
Now his 1978 Topps card shows him as a member of the Atlanta Braves. Of course, this was normal. Topps sold their cards in one series at this time, and the deal to the Mets came long after the card was printed. So here is his 1978 Topps card #38:
Nice pose, in his powder blue warm up jacket. Until I started going backwards into my card collection, I didn't know that the Braves wore this shade of blue in their uniforms. Here is card number 2:
He's somehow wearing the uniform of his 1978 team, the Mets. Now, wait a minute...there was no Topps Traded set in 1978, and I'm pretty sure that there was only one Montañez card in the regular 1978 Topps set. So the question now becomes...
What Card Is This???
I'll leave this up for a day or two. It's possible that someone can get this right. We'll see though...
UPDATE: Wednesday, November 12, 2008.
As the night owl stated, Captain Canuck is right. This was one of five cards that Topps created for Zest Soap featuring five Latino players. Montañez' card was the only one that was a variation of his 1978 Topps card (the other four were Joaquin Andujar, Bert Campaneris, Ed Figueroa, and Manny Mota, each had the same card printed for this special set).
Night Owl, and you too Captain, I have extra Topps/Zest sets sitting at home. If you would like one, please e-mail me your address and I will send one full five-card set out to you just for responding. jba