Wednesday, October 29, 2014

1979 TOPPS BILL MADLOCK

AS CUDDLY AS A WOLVERINE.



GREG MADDUX ONCE HAD 7 PUTOUTS IN A 9-INNING GAME.



THE FRONT PAGE

  • Squat of build at 5-11, 180 pounds, Bill Madlock was put together like a pitbull with a demeanor to match. "Mad Dog'' was more than an equal-opportunity umpire abuser and prized pugilist who was ejected 18 times and burned three times that many bridges. He was a four-time NL batting champion and one of only three right-handed hitters to win multiple crowns since 1960. A well-timed trade during the 1979 season gave Madlock his first taste of the postseason and the "We are Family'' Pirates their final piece of a championship puzzle. In a 15-year career, he batted over .300 in eight full seasons while slashing .305/.365/.442. 

THE BACK PAGE

  • That six-hit game was a wild one at Wrigley Field, with the Cubs losing to the Mets 9-8 in 10 innings. Madlock's sixth hit drove in the Cubs' final run in the 10th, but he was stranded on second as the tying run. In addition to the 17 runs, the teams combined for 29 hits.

PHOTO PLAY

  • Mad Dog looks positively genteel while wearing a helmet that looks two sizes too small. I'd crack a joke, but as you'll see, you poked The Dog at your own risk.

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • After coming up with the Senators/Rangers and making his major-league debut in '73, Madlock was traded to the Cubs, along with Vic Harris, for Fergie Jenkins after the season.
  • Replacing Ron Santo at third in '74, Madlock hit .313 in his first full season, the highest average by a Cub third baseman since Stan Hack's .323 in '45.
  • Named an All-Star for the first time in '75 and won his first batting title with a .354 average.
  • Despite playing a corner infield position, Madlock was not a power hitter, averaging only 15 homers a season.
  • Drove in the winning run in the '75 All-Star Game for the Nationals with a two-run single in the ninth off Rich Gossage, breaking a 3-3 tie. Madlock shared MVP honors with Mets pitcher Jon Matlack. The Mad Mat combo was not lacking as it locked down the victory.
  • Madlock vs. Matlack: In 24 plate appearances, he slashed .364/.417/.545 with a homer and six RBI.
  • Madlock needed an outstanding performance in the season's final game in '76 to defend his batting crown. He was five points behind the Reds' Ken Griffey before going 4-for-4 against the Expos. His last hit put him ahead .339-.338. Griffey, who didn't start the Reds' final game, entered to get two at-bats but was hitless and finished with a .336 average.
  • Mad Dog's penchant for swinging his fists as easily as his bat grew old for the Cubs as did his salary complaints. Not surprisingly, he was traded to the Giants in spring '77 in a multi-player deal that brought Bobby Murcer to the North Side.
  • His .336 average in 1,481 at-bats tied the Cubs' franchise career high set by Riggs Stephenson.
  • Madlock spent two-plus seasons in San Francisco, growing frustrated with being asked to play second base, before the Pirates took a chance by trading for him on June 28, 1979. In 85 games, he slashed .328/.390/.469 with seven homers and 44 RBI. He hit .375 in the seven-game World Series victory over the Orioles.
  • Of the six teams Madlock played for, he played the longest with the Pirates (seven seasons).
  • Won his final two batting titles with the Bucs, in '81 with a .341 average and in '83 with a .323 mark.
  • He was the first player to win two batting titles for two teams.
  • Let's take a look at a few notorious incidents when Mad Dog:
  • Was nearly beaned in Double-A Pittsfield in August '71, touching off a brawl in which he started using his bat to crack noggins instead of baseballs. The cops were called and he was suspended for 14 games.
  • Was hit by the Giants' Jim Barr in May '76, triggering a brawl and earning a $500 fine.
  • Criticized the Cubs pitching staff  in August '76 for not protecting him, i.e. retaliating, after he was leading the league in times hit (nine).
  • Was called out on strikes in July '77, fell to his knees and handed the bat to the umpire. He was immediately ejected.
  • Got into a fistfight with Giants teammate John Montefusco in March '78 after The Dog interrupted an interview with The Count. "I've heard and read where Montefusco has said this team is a team of losers,'' Mad Dog barked.
  • Instigated a brawl with the Braves in June '79 after being brushed back by Bo McLaughlin. After popping up, Mad Dog elbowed McLaughlin while running to first. Two days later, he was dealt to the Pirates.
  • Was most notably embroiled in the "Smell the Glove'' incident of May 1, 1980, with umpire Gerry Crawford, who called him out on strikes for the third out. As Mad Dog was arguing, a teammate running onto the field handed him his glove. Continuing to argue, Mad Dog decided to make his point a bit more emphatically by sticking it into Crawford's face. He was suspended 15 days and fined $5,000.
  • Because of a mistake by Total Baseball in the '80s, Madlock was credited with only three batting titles in some circles. In the first and second editions, Total Baseball listed Pete Rose as the '81 strike-season batting champion. No truth to the rumor Mad Dog attempted to track down the Total Baseball statisticians to ''fix'' their calculators. 

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