Thursday, December 26, 2013

TOPPS 1976 "ALL-TIME ALL-STARS"- AN EXPANDED VIEW #2: 2ND BASEMEN

The next installment in my thread regarding the 1976 "All-Time All-Stars" sub-set moves on to second base, where the Sporting News picked Rogers Hornsby as the all-time all-star at the position.
Now what if there was both an N.L. AND A.L. Team picked? Who would have been the American League second baseman?
First off, I can't really argue with the Hornsby pick for the "all-time" team outright, as " the Rajah" was second only to Ty Cobb in career batting average at .358, along with seven batting titles, just under 3000 hits (2930), as well as some feats that may never be seen again, such as his five year stretch where he AVERAGED over .400 between 1921 and 1925!
He TWICE took home a Triple Crown (in 1922 and 1925), and was the first National League player to hit over 40 homers in a season when he smashed 42 in 1922.
He batted over .400 three times, topped by an astounding .424 average in 1924, and just missed out on another when he hit .397 in 1921.
Hornsby was a hitting machine, and his spot on an "all-time" team is A-OK by me!
However, as I mentioned earlier, I always wondered who would have been the American League representative for an all-time team had they picked one, and  I decided that in all probability it would have been early 20th Century SUPER star Napolean Lajoie.
Already a star for the Philadelphia team of the National league the final few years of the 1890's, Lajoie famously jumped leagues during the tumultuous player-snatching between leagues in the first few years of the new century, and he didn't miss a beat when he suited up for the American League's entry in Philly.
All he did in 1901 was tear the league to shreds, and when the dust settled on the American League's first season, Lajoie was the king of the hill, claiming the Triple Crown as he lead the league in runs, hits, doubles, homers, runs batted in, batting average, on base percentage, slugging and total bases!
His .426 average is STILL the high-water mark for the league and will almost assuredly never be topped.
A five-time batting champ, Lajoie finished his 21-year career with a .338 average to go along with 3243 hits, 1504 runs scored, 657 doubles, 163 triples and just under 1600 runs batted in with 1599.
In 1914 he joined Cap Anson and Honus Wagner as the only players with 3000+ career hits, and even after his Major League days were over in 1917, while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the ripe old age of 42, he won the International league batting title, hitting a smooth .380!
Like Hornsby, Lajoie was a machine at the plate, and was one of the first Hall of Fame inductees, getting elected as part of the second class in 1937.
As far as picks go for second base, I think Lajoie is a "gimmie" for the A.L. slot, so I've kind of had it easy so far with my picks on this topic.
So take a look at the Sporting News pick that Topps issued, Rogers Hornsby, as well as my design for the American League counterpart, Napolean Lajoie.

The Sporting News pick...

My pick for the N.L. team.

Next up, the shortstop position and what may be the first "iffy" pick to raise some eyebrows, as I choose my American League "all-time all-star" to pair up with the Sporting News pick, Honus Wagner.

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