Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 1970'S" #1: 1971 ORIOLES 20-WIN FOURSOME

Today I start a new thread that I know will be fun to work on: "highlight" cards throughout the decade of events and milestones that didn't get enough play by Topps (in MY book) in any set.
Record Breaker and Highlight cards did indeed appear in sets during the 1970's, but they still left some accomplishments that I always felt were big out of the picture.
A good example of this would be today's baseball achievement: the 1971 Baltimore Orioles and their 20-game winning foursome of Jim Palmer, Pat Dobson, Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally.
I mean come on! Only once before (and since) has a team sported FOUR starters that won 20 or more games, and that was the much-maligned Chicago White Sox team from 1920 when Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, Red Faber and Dickie Kerr all won 20+.
Not until this fearsome foursome showed up everyday in 1971 did a team have such a luxury.
First, take a look at my design for what should have been a nice insert into the 1972 Topps set to celebrate this rare achievement:


Ok, I got a little "cheeky" with the text on the card. But I didn't want to just list their names.
You'll find this as a common thread with a bunch of the card designs I come up with for this thread.
Back to what this staff did: think about it: 80+ wins just like that on the shoulders of four starters.
That's amazing, and obviously something we will never see again the way Major League ball is played these last 30 years or so.
McNally led the way with a 21-5 record, followed by the other three with Cuellar going 20-9, Dobson going 20-8 and Palmer going 20-9.
Only Cuellar sported an E.R.A. Over 3.00, with a 3.08 showing, while Palmer had the lowest at 2.68, McNally at 2.89 and Dobson at 2.90.
Oddly enough the biggest winner had the fewest starts, as McNally took the mound 30 times in '71 while the others all posted 37 or 38 starts for the year.
Palmer was the last to reach 20-wins with a sparkling 5-0 shutout of the Cleveland Indians on September 26th, his last start!
Cuellar won his 20th a couple games before on the 24th, (1st Game of a doubleheader), beating Sam McDowell 9-2, while McNally pitched a shutout against the Yankees on the 21st of September to reach HIS milestone win.
Incredibly Dobson also threw a shutout for HIS 20th win, this one in the second game of a doubleheader on the 24th against the Indians.
Dobson and Cuellar both won their 20th on the same day, and three of the four starters threw shutouts for their wins!
How awesome is that?!
Since that awesome pitching staff performance, the closest any team has had to four 20-game winners seems to be the 1989 Oakland A's, who had Dave Stewart with 21 wins, Mike Moore and Storm Davis win 19, and Bob Welch chip in 17 wins.
Still pretty impressive, especially considering that team played at the beginning of the "middle relief" era, FOR the guy who really began implementing it the way we see it used today: skipper Tony LaRussa.
Anyway, if you like this sort of stuff, keep an eye out for more of the same in the coming weeks, as I'll design cards for such baseball accomplishments as the 1977 Dodgers having four players slam 30+ homers, the 1973 Braves with three batters swat 40+ homers, and much more.

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic card! Thanks for designing such a great tribute card with the infamous all orange unis. Perhaps even more amazing that the 81 wins between them was the fact that the foursome pitched 70 complete games!

    Here is my look back at the Orioles 1971 4 20 game winners, and the one win that the foursome couldn't get:

    http://fleersticker.blogspot.com/2008/01/picture-paints-thousand-words.html

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