Monday, January 13, 2014

TOPPS 1976 "ALL-TIME ALL-STARS"- AN EXPANDED VIEW #4: THIRD BASEMEN

OK now, wrapping up infielders on my "All-Time All-Stars" 1976 thread, we move onto third basemen.
In celebration of Major League baseball's 100th anniversary, the Sporting News picked Pie Traynor as the all-time best third baseman.
At the time, it wasn't necessarily a bad pick.
However I think if I had a pick back then, I would have gone with the guy I chose as the all-time all-star at third for the American League, Brooks Robinson.
First off let's take a look at the Topps card from the awesome 1976 sub-set, Pie Traynor, and my design for the A.L. representative as mentioned above:

As picked by the Sporting News

Almost a lock for the A.L. pick back in '76

Traynor was incredible. It's easy to overlook the fact that he drove in 100+ runs six times while hitting under 10 homers!
And this is NOT a guy who played in the dead-ball era. He was driving in runs in bunches for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1920's and 1930's.
As a matter of fact, just like his American League counterpart Brooks Robinson, Traynor played his entire 17-year career with only one team, the Pirates.
And by the time he was wrapping up his Hall of Fame career in 1937, he was good for over 2400 hits, 1183 runs, 164 triples and 1273 ribbies while hitting a cool .320.
Like most national Leaguers in 1930, Traynor feasted on pitchers to the tune of a .366 average with 119 runs batted in while only hitting nine homers.
Two years earlier, in 1928, Traynor drove in 124 runs while only hitting THREE homers! 
Just amazing stuff, and in 1948 he received his hard earned spot in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Now while all of this truly IS amazing stuff, as I stated earlier I think I STILL would have picked Brooks Robinson in 1976 as the all-time all-star at the position over Traynor.
Robinson really did redefine the position over the course of his incredible 24-year career in Baltimore.
After a few false starts as a teenager out of Arkansas in the mid-to late-50's, Brooks hit the ground running in 1960 and never looked back.
That season began a run of SIXTEEN straight Gold Gloves at third, while also running 15 straight years as an all-star!
In that run he also had seven years of top-10 M.V.P. finishes, winning the award in 1964, (beating out Mickey Mantle), and was the anchor of all those great Oriole teams of the late-1960's/early-1970's, winning two World Series in 1966 and 1970 and four A.L. Pennants.
And WHO can forget the fielding display he performed against the Reds in the 1970 World Series? 
By the time the "Human Vacuum Cleaner" retired after the 1977 season, he totaled 2884 hits, 268 homers, 1357 runs batted in, and 11 fielding titles at third.
He also lead the league in assists at third eight times while establishing a few records that STILL stand today: most games at third with 2870, most double-plays turned with 618, most putouts with 2697 and most assists with 6205.
Both on the field and at the plate this guy was top-notch, so with no disrespect to the guys over at the Sporting News, THIS should have been the third baseman picked as "All-Time All-Star". (Unless he wasn't eligible for some reason. I don't know what the criteria was for that vote).
Next up, we take a look at the all-time all-star catchers, Mickey Cochrane, who was picked by the Sporting News and depicted on the 1976 sub-set, and my pick, which really shouldn't surprise anyone, Roy Campanella, representing the National League.
Keep an eye out for it…

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