Tuesday, December 17, 2013

TOPPS 1976 "ALL-TIME ALL-STARS"- AN EXPANDED VIEW #1: 1ST BASEMEN

I've always been a HUGE fan of Topps' 1976 sub-set: "All-Time All-Stars".
I remember first seeing these cards as a seven year old kid and I was blown away staring at photos of Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, among other greats of the game.
With most of these players it was the very first time I even SAW photos of them, like Rogers Hornsby and Honus Wagner.
And staring at those insane stats on the backs were a thrill for a young stat-geek before the age of the web and before my dad would buy me my first Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia a few years later.
I was hooked!
Since then I always wondered what the FULL "all-time" team would have been had the Sporting News held a vote for BOTH the National League's all-time team and American League.
I imagined who would be a "lock" and what position would be a toss-up.
Well today I want to start this thread off by looking at the first basemen, both the elected, Lou Gehrig (and rightly so), and who I think would have been elected for the N.L., Cap Anson.
Let me begin by stating now that this is purely conjecture, as I do not have the final vote-tally from when the Sporting News did this back then to mark the 100th anniversary of the "Major Leagues". So I'll have some fun with this and pick who I think would have, or "should have" won the spot for the unrepresented league back in 1976.
Again, this IS NOT about who would be voted TODAY, but back in 1976 when the original voting was held.
So here we go…

For first base the National League wasn't represented, as Lou Gehrig is and was the obvious choice for the position. 
This is DEFINITELY one of those "locks" I mentioned earlier!
The "Iron Horse" is one of the top players bottom-line, and even today there isn't a first baseman that could arguably topple him from the top spot among first sackers.
But I felt that if there was a pick for the National league back in 1976, it would have been Cap Anson.
Keeping "politics" out of this (and believe me, I was tempted to NOT pick Anson solely on his questionable "objections" to who played in the Majors or not), I just feel that Anson was the best all-time first baseman of the N.L. at the time the Sporting News held this vote.
How can you argue with a 22-year career (not including his five year National Association years) that produced the first member of the 3000 hit club, over 1700 runs scored, 1880 runs batted in, and a sterling .331 career average.
Statistics aside, Anson was also one of the most important figures of early baseball, helping the game survive various struggles and becoming "America's Pastime", along with other important figures like Albert Spalding and the Wright brothers (Harry and George), among others.
When you add in Cap Anson's N.A. stats, they're just eye-popping: 1999 runs scored, 3435 hits, 2075 runs batted in, and a .334 average.
He was easily the charter member of many of the milestone clubs!
So today I designed a card for Anson in that awesome 1976 "All-Time All-Stars" sub-set, filling out the first base position for BOTH leagues.
 
The Sporting News pick...

My pick for the N.L. team.
 
Next up: second base and my American League pick, joining Rogers Hornsby at the position.
Stay tuned…

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