Friday, June 15, 2012

1970 TOPPS STEVE CARLTON

REALLY LOVE LEFTY'S CARDINAL ISSUES.
FAIRLY DOMINATING IN HIS FIRST SEASON OF PRO BALL.

THE FRONT PAGE

  • Like the '70 Pete Rose, this is my oldest Steve Carlton card.
  • While Lefty never talked to the press, he let his pitching speak, and it spoke volumes. A reporter uttered a classic line in '81, when a certain Dodger rookie and Carlton squared off. "The two best pitchers in the National League don't speak English, Fernando Valenzuela and Steve Carlton.''

THE BACK PAGE

  • The 19 strikeouts established the major-league nine-inning record in the 4-3 loss. 
  • These '70 cartoons were not of the highest caliber.

PHOTO PLAY

  • Unflattering photo of Lefty, but of course, the Windbreaker under the jersey helps make up for it.

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • After that '69 season, Lefty held out in spring training in a contract dispute. Then he went 10-19 with a 3.73 ERA, leading the league in losses the year this card came out.
  • Following another contract dispute, Carlton was traded before the '72 season to the Phillies for Rick Wise, a decent pitcher but would not come close to matching Lefty's numbers in Philadelphia. 
  • After going 77-62 with a 3.10 ERA and 951 strikeouts in seven seasons in St. Louis, Carlton went 237-153 with a 3.02 ERA and 2,969 strikeouts in 14 seasons with the Phillies. He got a lot of those strikeouts with an explosive slider, which the Pirates' Willie Stargell said hitting it was akin to "drinking coffee with a fork.'' 
  • Carlton had some interesting training methods in the conservative and laid-back '70s. He practiced martial arts and had a large canister of rice in the clubhouse in which he would work his pitching hand to the bottom. Trappist monk Jetchi from Haddonfield helped train Carlton.
  • Was the first to win four Cy Young Awards, with his '72 season one of the greatest ever. The Phillies went 59-97, but Lefty finished 27-10, winning 46 percent of his team's games.
  • Between '82-'84, Lefty, Nolan Ryan and Gaylord Perry took turns on top of the all-time strikeout list, all eventually surpassing Walter Johnson. In '83 alone, there were 14 lead changes and a tie between Carlton and Ryan. At the end of the season, Carlton led 3,709-3,677. Ryan would wind up on top with 5,714; Lefty, passed by Randy Johnson (4,875) and Roger Clemens (4,672), is fourth with 4,136. 
  • Carlton was a vagabond in his final three years, beginning in '86. He pitched for the Giants, where he notched his 4,000th strikeout, White Sox, Indians and Twins. With the Indians in '87, Carlton and Phil Niekro became the first 300-game winning teammates to appear in the same game. Lefty lasted only a month into the '88 season with the Twins, getting released after posting an 0-1 record and 16.76 ERA in four games.

LEFTY DIDN'T SAY MUCH WHEN I ACQUIRED HIS AUTOGRAPH.

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