Now, while I do realize this "highlight" is actually something that happened in the '60's, September 15th 1969 to be exact, this is a card that would have appeared in the 1970 Topps set, had they decided to celebrate a record that I always thought was worthy of a highlight card: Steve Carlton striking out 19 batters against the New York Mets.
Take a look at my design:
Sorry for the somewhat grainy card image. The photo I used was the best I could find for a horizontal card, and I really wanted to stick to the format for this one. Seemed "right" for it.
Ironically enough, Carlton actually lost the game, mainly on Ron Swaboda's two two-run home runs which gave the Mets all the runs they needed to beat Carlton and the Cardinals, 4-3.
However Carlton had it all working for him that day, as he marched right into the record books by beating the previous record of 18 strikeouts which was jointly held by Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax and Don Wilson.
This was pretty much the first historic highlight of the future Hall of Famer's stellar career, as he'd go on to then post his first 20-win season in 1971 while still with the Cardinals, then post his uber-famous 1972 Triple-Crown winning year as a Philadelphia Phillie, winning his first of four Cy Young Awards.
Carlton would end his 24 year career with 329 wins, 55 shutouts, a 3.22 earned run average and a whopping 4136 strikeouts.
Those monster numbers got him inducted to Cooperstown on his first try in 1994, getting named on 436 of 456 ballots.
I remember seeing Carlton pitch at the end of his career when he was trying to hang on those last couple of years.
He pitched for the Cleveland Indians against the New York Yankees at the Stadium on April 14th, 1987, giving up a grand slam homer to Yankee catcher Joel Skinner, and eventually taking the loss.
It was kind of a bummer, as he was a shell of his former self, and was caught in that vicious "hanging on" phase some players tend to get stuck in.
He'd move on to Minnesota later that year, and even pitch in four games for them in 1988 before finally hanging them up, putting to rest an incredible baseball resume that only a couple of other lefties can match in the history of the game.
I also plan on creating cards for the other two pitchers that ended up tying Carlton with 19 K's soon after in the decade: Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan.
Keep an eye out for them…