Monday, March 18, 2013

1969 TOPPS FERGIE JENKINS


CLASSIC DOMINATING RIGHT-HANDER.



ON HIS WAY TO SOME IMPRESSIVE CAREER STATS.


THE FRONT PAGE

  • Fergie Jenkins certainly had impressive career numbers: 284 victories, 3.34 ERA, 267 complete games and 3,192 strikeouts. He also had an imposing presence: 6-5, 205 pounds, glaring from the hill with baseball in hand. Awarded the Cy Young in 1971 after winning 24 games, and he finished in the top three in the voting four other times in his 19-year career. His 11.3 WAR in '71 led the majors.

THE BACK PAGE

  • That umpire in the cartoon looks more like a termite, or an ant or some kind of insect. I can't decide exactly which.
  • He was in the middle of compiling six consecutive 20-plus victory seasons with the Cubs. How amazin' was that?
  • Whoops, wrong choice of adjectives there, '69 Cub fans.
  • That previous Cub pitcher to have back-to-back 20-win seasons was the immortal Lon Warneke, aka "The Arkansas Hummingbird.''

PHOTO PLAY

  • This always has been a favorite card of mine because of the placement of the "Cubs'' team name in relation to the "Chicago'' jersey letters. As a kid, I remember thinking this was the coolest thing ever.
  • Plus, I like the fake wind-up and how Fergie's arms frame the card. No dead space here.

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • After getting hosed in the Lou Brock trade in '64, the Cubs earned some redemption in '66 by acquiring Jenkins from the Phillies for pitchers Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl.
  • Jenkins went 167-132, 3.20 ERA with the Cubs in 10 seasons.
  • The beginning of the end to his Cubs career started in '73, when he went 14-16, snapping his 20-win streak. Manager Leo Durocher had been replaced by Whitey Lockman, who didn't endear himself to Jenkins with quick hooks. After averaging 23 complete games the previous six seasons, Jenkins had only seven in '73.
  • The front office broke apart the team the next year, and Jenkins was shipped to the Rangers basically for Bill Madlock, who would replace Ron Santo at third and go on to win two NL batting titles. It would be a trade that helped both teams.
  • In Texas, with new manager Billy Martin, Jenkins thrived in '74. Martin rode his pitchers like a jockey cracking the whip. Fergie, a thoroughbred of the highest order, benefited, winning a career-high 25 games, pitching a career-high 328.1 innings and completing a league-leading 29 games. He was second to Catfish Hunter for Cy Young.
  • The 25 victories remain a Rangers' franchise record.
  • Jenkins, a strikeout pitcher with the control of an uptight movie director, led the league in fewest walks per nine innings five times. In his prime, he averaged 201 strikeouts and only 57 walks. To put it in Rotisserie Baseball terms, he could've commanded $30.
  • The only pitcher in major-league history to have 3,000-plus strikeouts and fewer than 1,000 walks (997).
  • Won his 250th game on May 23, 1980, with Texas.
  • Three months later, on Aug. 25 at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, Fergie was arrested for possession of a suitcase containing coke, weed and hash. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn indefinitely suspended him only to see it overturned by an arbitrator on Sept. 22.
  • Even more fortuitous news followed: After being convicted in a Canadian court, the charges were dropped by a judge because of Jenkins' "exemplary'' conduct. Fergie was born in Ontario and considered one of the country's greatest athletes. Talk about pitching out of a tight jam! Actually, talk about preferential treatment!
  • The incident no doubt affected his Hall of Fame candidacy. He should've been a slam-dunk first-ballot selection but failed in his first two tries. In '91, he eked in with 75.3 percent of the vote. He was the first Canadian to be enshrined.
  • Spent '67-'69 as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters in the off-season. 
  • In '09, the Cubs retired No. 31 in honor of Jenkins and Greg Maddux.

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