As a kid growing up obsessed with baseball in the 1970's and 1980's, I always thought Fred Lynn's 1975 season was one of the coolest season's ever.
How could you NOT be impressed with a young player coming up and leading his team (with a lot of help, of course) to the World Series, and then winning the Rookie of the Year AND Most Valuable Player awards in his first taste of the Big Leagues?
Even today, with Fernando Valenzuela winning the R.O.Y. And Cy Young in 1981 and Ichiro duplicating Lynn's 1975 accomplishment, Lynn's 1975 season still stands as an "event" as far as baseball history goes, and should have gotten SOME play by Topps in their 1976 set.
So today I present to you my design for a card that would have been fun to have back then, a 1976 "Highlight" card of Fred Lynn's magical 1975 season:
I thought Topps did a decent job with Lynn's regular 1976 card.
But boy did it seem to miss out on some of the "buzz" revolving around this new superstar.
The rookie trophy gave it a small bump, but it's almost like the card should have had stars shooting off of it for what Lynn accomplished that year!
Coming out of USC, Lynn was a second round pick by the Boston Red Sox in 1973, and got his first small taste of the Majors in 1974, playing 15 games and ripping it up to the tune of a .419 batting average in 43 at-bats.
That was a small sampling of what fans were to see the following year, as Lynn just took over and lead the charge for the BoSox, hitting .331 with 21 homers and 105 runs batted in.
He'd also lead the league in runs scored with 103, doubles with 47, and slugging with a .566 average.
On top of all of that, he'd even take home a Gold Glove for his defensive efforts as well!
He was "All-World" at that point!
The Red Sox would fall short of a truly magical year for Lynn, losing to the mighty "Big Red Machine" Cincinnati team in the World Series, but for Lynn it would the first full season of a very nice 17 year career which saw him hit over 300 homers, drive in over 1000 runs and stroke just under 2000 hits.
1979 would probably be his best season, when he lead the American League in batting with a .333 average, to go along with great power numbers of 39 homers, 116 runs scored and 122 runs batted in, all career highs.
He would also be the only Major Leaguer of the decade to lead the league in batting, on-base and slugging in the same season, with a slash-line of .333/.423/.637.
If it wasn't for an odd plethora of "awesome" years by Don Baylor, Ken Singleton and George Brett, Lynn could have won another M.V.P.
Nevertheless, that 1975 accomplishment of becoming the first player to ever win a Rookie of the Year AND Most Valuable Player Award in the year is something to be proud of.
I'm having a blast designing my own "highlight" cards of the 1970's, along with writing up the stories.
Needless to say I'll be posting a ton of these over the next few months.
Hope you all enjoy them as much as I do!