Sunday, October 6, 2013

Topps passed on Goss as Colt .45

There's really not a compelling reason for me to present these pictures of Howie Goss from the J.D. McCarthy archives. Other than the fact that I've always liked the 1962-64 Houston Colt .45's home jerseys and that Goss' long professional career was under-represented in the baseball card world.

Those smoking gun jerseys are gloriously politically incorrect. Today, a kid would get thrown out of school for wearing a replica.

Based on the number of Houston player photos that were in the collection of McCarthy photos that I acquired, the photographer seems to have visited the team's spring training site for several years in the early- to mid-1960s.

It's too bad Goss had such a short big league career that Topps never produced a card of him as a Houston player.

Topps only had two Howie Goss cards. In 1962 he was one of five bug-sized floating heads on a high-number Rookie Parade Outfielders card. In the 1963 set, he got his own card, pictured with the Pirates. By the time that card was issued, however, Goss was gone from Pittsburgh and playing for Houston.

Goss had played the 1962 season with the Pirates after spending nine years in the minor leagues. While working his way up the Pirates' organizational ladder, Goss had shown several flashes of power prowess. He had hit 27 home runs in 1955, 1956 and 1961, his best HR year being 2960 when he 29 at AAA Vancouver. He generally batted around .260 during his apprenticeship.

Getting his chance in the bigs as a 27-year-old rookie, Goss was not able to match his minor league record.
He showed little power (two home runs and six doubles in 89 games), while hitting .243.

While Topps was in the process of printing his 1963 card, Goss was traded to the Colt .45's for Manny Mota.

Goss was Houston's regular center fielder throughout the 1963 season, but was able to hit only .209 (largely because he was second in the National League with 128 strikeouts) with nine home runs and 44 RBI. By striking out at least once in each of Houston's first 14 games in 1963, Goss set a major league record that stood until broken by Adam Dunn in 2012.

For 1964, Goss was replaced in center by Jimmy Wynn. After spending the season in the Pacific Coast League, he retired from pro ball.

Besides Goss' pair of Topps cards, he appeared in two Columbus Jets player-photo issues in 1957 and 1958, but you could spend a long time trying to find one.

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