Wednesday, April 23, 2014

1973 TOPPS DARRELL EVANS

AGED LIKE FINE WINE.



HOT-CORNER SLUGGER DELUXE.



THE FRONT PAGE

  • "Underrated'' is probably overused when it comes to describing deserving players not in the Hall of Fame. Darrell Evans is another, and according to sabermatrician/author Bill James, he's at the top. James ranks Evans 10th all-time among third basemen in his Historical Baseball Abstract and "the most underrated player in baseball history, absolutely No. 1 on the list.'' The big knock on Evans was his .248 lifetime average over 21 seasons. What's often lost was his ability to take a walk (97 times per season) and of course his power (414 homers). He also aged well for someone who didn't play in the steroid era and was the second player to hit 100-plus homers for three different teams and slashed .361/.431.

THE BACK PAGE

  • Excellent cartoon. Evans' mom, Eleanor, played for the Pasadena Ramblers.
  • Darrell Wayne Evans sounds like a bad-ass gunfighter from the old west.

PHOTO PLAY

  • The '70s Braves pullovers have aged well, especially the road version, that big sleeve feather the focal point here.

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • James compares Evans to Hall of Famer Tony Perez, saying Evans was the better of the two but because he didn't play for a big-market team or a powerhouse was overlooked.
  • Reggie Jackson is the only other player to hit 100-plus homers for three teams.
  • When Evans came up with the Braves, Hall of Fame third baseman Eddie Mathews, who was then a coach, helped refine his defense by hitting him thousands of grounders.
  • Mathews became the manager in '72, Evans' first year as the regular third baseman when he hit 19 home runs.
  • Evans was the first player to hit 40-plus homers in both leagues (41 in '73 with the Braves and 40 in '85 with the Tigers).
  • That '73 Braves team was the first to feature three players to hit 40-plus homers. Joining Evans were Davey Johnson (43) and Hank Aaron (40).
  • Evans' '73 season was his best, reaching career-highs in homers, RBI (104) and batting average (.281). He also drew a major-league leading 124 walks.
  • The next season, on April 8 against the Dodgers, Evans reached on an error and scored on Aaron's historic 715th homer.
  • Led the majors in walks for a second consecutive year in '74 with 126.
  • Hitting below .200 in June 1976 and the Braves going nowhere, Evans was traded to the Giants, with Marty Perez, for Willie Montanez
  • Evans hit 131 homers for the Braves in nine seasons.
  • Hit 142 homers in eight seasons for the Giants.
  • A free agent after the '83 season, he chose the Tigers over the Yankees with the hope of making the postseason for the first time.
  • Wise choice. The '84 Tigers went wire-to-wire and won the World Series, but Evans was largely ineffective, hitting .232 with only 16 homers and 63 RBI.
  • He made up for it with a remarkable '85 season, becoming the oldest (38) to lead the AL in homers with those 40 bombs. It also was the only time he led the league in homers.
  • Evans would hit a then-record 60 homers after age 40. 
  • Selected to only two All-Star teams ('73 and '83).
  • In '87, as the oldest everyday player in the majors, Evans hit 34 homers and drove in 99 for the Tigers.
  • Hit 141 homers in five seasons for Detroit.
  • Evans says he witnessed a life-changing event in '82, when he and his wife saw a UFO and became a believer in the supernatural and extraterrestrials. 

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