Ah- another baseball season is upon us, and Topps has issued another Heritage set. That means it's time to begin another round of Topps Counterparts. The first featured cards in this year's counterparts are found on card #76 in their respective sets.
1962 Topps #76 Howie Bedell
The 1962 Topps set featured a rookie by the name of Howie Bedell, who the previous season gave Milwaukee at least some small hope that he would become a productive big leaguer-despite the fact that he was 25 and had spent the last five years in the minors. That '61 season saw Bedell hit in an American Association record 43 straight games while coming .001 points of winning the batting title (as a side note, I'm currently reading the new book, 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports by Kostya Kennedy-it's highly recommended!). In the March 1962 issue of Baseball Digest, in which Bedell shared the cover with Sam McDowell, Dave Giusti ,and Jim Fergosi , the following scouting report on Bedell was given: "Speed, hustle and desire are his big assets. Little power, though improving as a hitter." Those assets (at least the hustle and desire) worked for Pete Rose-unfortunately for Bedell, they didn't work for him. Howie ended up with 150 plate appearances for the Braves in 1962, hitting a meager .196 with 2 RBI and 1 double and two triples. The '62 season was the only time that Bedell had any big league experience with the Braves. He would return to the majors once more, in 1968 with the Phillies-recording only 1 hit in 7 at bats in 9 games.
2011 Topps Heritage #76 Freddie Freeman
Coming into the 2011 season, the Braves had declared that rookie Freddie Freeman would be the team's first baseman to start the season. Freeman, however, approached Spring Training as if he were playing to win the job, and you've got to respect a kid who has been given a job and doesn't take it for granted. After a hot start this spring, Freeman has cooled off of late-after today's game he is hitting .238 with 2 home runs. The reports on him in the field is that he will be a very good defender, and he has impressed with the glove for the most part this spring- although he has had a couple of plays where he didn't field it cleanly where he should have. My guesstimate is that by the end of the season, Freeman will be hitting around .260-.265, with 13 HR while driving in about 60 runs.