Friday, January 17, 2014

UGH...THOSE 1972 TOPPS "AWARDS" CARDS...(#621 THROUGH #626): TODAY, CARD #625 "ROOKIE OF THE YEAR"

Let's come back to my thread regarding that 1972 awards sub-set, and check in on the "Rookie of the Year" award card (#625), which originally featured an image of the actual award rather than the two winners in 1971: Chris Chambliss in the A.L. and Earl Williams in the N.L.
First off, a look at the original card issued by Topps:


Yeah, you already know how I feel about these cards, so I'll spare the rant. 
But take a look at my redesign, showing what would have been a much nicer card to collect back then:


Among the two winners of the award, Williams had more of an impact during the season, bashing 33 homers and driving in 87 runs for the Atlanta Braves splitting time between catcher, first base and third at the age of 22.
Sadly, 1971 was easily his best year in the Majors, as his numbers rapidly declined over the rest of his eight year career, ending up with Oakland in 1977.
He always kept that powerful "punch" in his swing, totaling 138 lifetime homers in only 3058 at-bats. Not bad especially in the modern "dead ball" era he played in.
But by the time he hung up the cleats at the age of 28, his final numbers were mediocre at best, totaling only 889 games played spread among the Braves, Orioles, Expos and A's.
As for Chambliss, we all know he ended up putting together a very nice 17-year career playing for the Indians, Yankees and Braves from 1971 through 1988.
His 1971 numbers didn't exactly jump off the page, but in a year where there really wasn't much R.O.Y. competition, Chambliss easily won the award over Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Bill Parsons.
Playing strictly first base for Cleveland over 111 games, Chambliss put together solid numbers: a .275 batting average, 20 doubles, four triples and nine homers with 48 ribbies in 415 at-bats.
But it was after he moved on to the New York yankees that he made his mark in baseball, becoming an important cog in the "Bronx Zoo" teams along with Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, etc.
Between 1976-1978, Chambliss drove in 90+ runs each year, along with averages between .274-.293 and homers between 12-17.
Lastly, one cannot talk about Chris Chambliss without talking about the single most memorable moment of his career, his pennant winning home run off Kansas City reliever Mark Little in game five of the American League Championship in the Bronx in 1976.
Easily the highlight of a solid career for the veteran first baseman (and one of THE first baseball highlights witnessed first hand by me actually!).
Next up regarding this thread: the last card in the sub-set, and biggest reason why it would have been nicer to have players shown on these cards instead of awards, the "Babe Ruth" award (#626), featuring none other than Pittsburgh Pirate great Roberto Clemente.
Well, it WOULD have featured him if I had something to do with it.
But at least I can present my redesign for the ugly card that actually got issued back in 1972.
Keep an eye out for it….

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