Sunday, March 30, 2014

HALL OF FAME LEADERS XVII: 1978 STRIKEOUT LEADERS

Next up on my "Hall of Fame" league-leader card thread we move onto 1978, and the only leader card that would feature solely future Hall of Famers: #206 Strikeout Leaders, with (once again) Nolan Ryan and knuckle-baller Phil Niekro.


For Ryan, this was beginning to be "old hat", as he whiffed 300+ batters for the fifth time in his career (already a Major League record), and won his fifth strikeout title.
This was the height of the "Ryan Express", and he'd go on to win another SIX titles before he was done, including another 300+ K season in 1989 at the incredible age of 42!
All told Ryan would win 11 strikeout crowns and post six 300+ strikeout seasons.
Just sick…
For Niekro, this would be the only time he'd lead the league in strikeouts, whiffing a nice 262 in 330.1 innings. The total would be a career high, and actually was the first time he struck out over 200 batters in a season in his 14-year career at that point.
On top of that, he was 38 years old when he did it, and he'd follow that up with his second best strikeout season the very next year with 248.
1977 was actually a bit of a down year for "Knucksie", as he also lead the National League in losses (20), earned runs (148), wild pitches (17) and walks (164).
It would also mark four straight seasons of leading the league in losses, with totals of 20, 18, 20 and 18 between 1977 and 1980.
But that didn't hurt his path straight to the Hall of Fame, as he eventually topped 300 career wins and 3000 career strikeouts, benchmarks for induction (at the time), getting voted in in 1997.
Next up on this thread, the last "Hall of Famer" leader card of the decade: 1979 #8 Leading Firemen featuring "Goose" Gossage and Rollie Fingers.

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