Thursday, July 19, 2012

1974 TOPPS RON SANTO

I'M SITTING IN THE THIRD ROW, FOURTH FROM LEFT.
IF BROOKSIE WAS 'HOOVER,' RONNIE WAS 'EUREKA.'

THE FRONT PAGE

  • The last card featuring Ron Santo as a Cub and one of his best. The background, with Leo Durocher and another Cub and especially the bleachers, screams cool card. 
  • After failing to be elected by the baseball writers -- he was listed on less than 4 percent of the ballots in his first year of eligibility in '80 -- Santo finally earned enshrinement by the Golden Era Committee.
  • Unfortunately, it came almost exactly one year after he died. Horribly sad, and I believe it's a fate that awaits Pete Rose. This will be an emotional moment Sunday.

THE BACK PAGE

  • This is a seriously off-center back. I never noticed it until I scanned it. Funny how the scanner never lies.
  • Awesome cartoon, reminds me of how Batman was my favorite superhero growing up. 

PHOTO PLAY

  • This image would've fit perfectly in the '73 set. 

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • The first of two '74 cards for Ronnie; he has card No. 270T in the Trades set. 
  • He was the first player to use the 10-5 rule under the '72 collective bargaining agreement to reject a trade to the Angels; he didn't want to play on the West Coast. The Cubs eventually worked a trade to keep him in the city with the White Sox, receiving catcher Steve Swisher and three young hurlers: Jim Kremmel, Ken Frailing and future broadcasting partner Steve Stone. With slugger Bill Melton at third, Santo was used at DH, which he hated, and was used some at second. He finished the '74 season hitting .221 with five homers. He retired at the end of the season. 
  • Because I'm a huge Brooks Robinson fan, I've always been sympathetic to Santo's Hall call. Many group the two as equal, and I pretty much do, too. The biggest difference was Brooksie's postseason excellence in '70, and, of course, Santo never tasted the playoffs with the woebegone Cubs.
  • It looked like Cubs were bound for the postseason in '69 (Cubs vs. Orioles World Series?), but of course the Metrosexuals had other ideas.
  • Santo began jumping and clicking his heels after victories. Manager Leo Durocher asked him to continue the ritual after home victories. Of course, opponents took offense, and he did his last heel click on Sept. 2, the last home victory while the team was still in first place. 
  • The Cubs went 8-17 down the stretch and were overtaken by New York.
  • In 15 years, Santo hit .277 with 342 homers, 1,331 RBI and won five Gold Gloves, consecutively beginning in 1964. He was a nine-time All-Star who led the NL in assists a record seven times; Robinson led the AL in assists eight times.

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