Roger Nelson – 1975 White Sox

December 13, 2010

The Airbrusher Got Me High…

Whoa, dude. Can you get baked huffin’ the fumes of the airbrush?

This guy, this Roger Nelson, looks happy for someone whose nickname was “Spider” and who spent more time on the DL in Cincinnati than on the mound. He also had a lot of DL time in Kansas City as well – missing almost all of 1970 and splitting 1971 between the DL, Omaha and KC.

Roger was involved in some big, big trades in his career. As a youngster, right after his cup of coffee with the White Sox in 1967, he was packaged with Don Buford and sent to Baltimore in exchange for Luis Aparicio. Thanks to Buford’s seasons of excellence as an on-base machine during the O’s big WS runs, advantage Orioles.

Nelson spent some time in Rochester in 1968, but he mostly just waited in the Baltimore bullpen for opportunities. Those Orioles staffs liked to finish what they started. KC selected him as the #1 pick of the 1969 expansion draft. He had a pretty good 1969 and an excellent 1972, bookending his DL trips.

Then after 1972, the Reds decided to flush out some of the logjam developing in the outfield, and packaged Hal McRae and sore-armed Wayne Simpson to KC for Nelson and journeyman Richie Scheinblum. The Reds needed to improve their pitching in order to become the dominant force in the NL West, but Nelson’s injuries left them short and they were forced to fleece…trade with San Diego for some depth there with Fred Norman and Clay Kirby.

The Reds’ impatience led them to dangle Nelson out there for anyone to grab, and the White Sox grabbed him for some cash money dollar bills, y’all. The Sox were always in need to depth because Wood, Kaat and Bahnsen couldn’t pitch all 1,458 innings, could they?

Unlike Skip Pitlock Nelson didn’t even make the team out of Spring Training. By the time the Kids of America (who-hoh) unwrapped this goofy visage with the heinous airbrushed hat, glasses, and sideburns right from Canned Heat, he was laboring in Tuscon for the A’s farm teams (where he was teammates with the aforementioned Mr. Pitlock). He then returned to the KC organization, was called up at the end of 1976 (jumping on the pile if nothing else), then spent 1977 and 1978 in AAA. He made one appearance in 1979 for the Pirates AAA team and then hung ’em up.

Why did Topps think they needed to airbrush cards when the results looked like this? Does anyone have an answer? Were the Kids of America that gullible, from New York to East California?

La-da-da-da-da La-da-da-da-da HEY!


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