1972 TOPPS DANNY FRISELLA IN ACTION
The previous year, Topps introduced on a wide scale action shots into their set. But too often those action shots looked like they were taken by a child with an Instamatic 110 camera from the mid-60s. Could they at least have gotten a shot of Tommie Agee’s face in his ‘71 Topps card, or was that too much to ask?
In 1972 Topps stepped up its action shot game and they didn’t do it quietly, either. They produced separate action shots for various players, which immediately followed their regular card. There were these “In Action” shots of stars like Hank Aaron, Pete Rose and Tom Seaver. And there were also “In Action” cards of lesser players, like Frisella here. It’s a great action shot, showing him in the middle of his delivery. It’s a lot better than the action shot of Seaver, where he’s bending over looking like he just gave up a base hit.
To be fair, Frisella had a very good year in 1971. In 53 games, he pitched 90.2 innings and went 8-5 with 12 Saves and a 1.99 ERA. He had developed a forkball, a pitch he picked up while playing winter ball in Venezuela. He learned the pitch from Diego Segui and used it instead of a slider, which had contributed to an earlier arm injury. The “In Action” card didn’t propel him to further heights, however. Frisella dealt with a pinched nerve and was essentially a replacement player in ‘72 and was traded away in the offseason.
Frisella continued to battle injuries and he bounced from Atlanta to San Diego to St. Louis and finally to Milwaukee. He seemed to find a home with the Brewers, as he went 5-2 with 9 Saves in 32 games after coming over in a mid-season deal in 1976. Those were pretty welcome numbers for a team that ended up losing 95 games.
The Brewers were counting on Frisella to be their closer in ‘77 but Frisella was a passenger in a Dune Buggy accident on New Year’s Day and did not survive.
Somewhat surprisingly, Topps had Frisella in its 1977 set. And not an “In Memoriam” card like they did for Ken Hubbs in the 1964 set. Hubbs died in a plane accident in February of 1964, a full month later than Frisella. At least the card was a good one, showing a game action shot of Frisella after he just released a pitch. And it was in a Brewers’ uniform, too. Not the terrible airbrush job they did with his 1975 card, where they put him in a yellow jersey to acknowledge that he had been traded to the Padres.
Frisella was well known for his sense of humor so perhaps he would have enjoyed having a card in the ‘77 set. It was weird to see at the time. It’s much better to think about this ‘72 card, instead.