Wednesday, January 25, 2017


The next “missing” 1972 In-Action card I wanted to post up was one for Pittsburgh Pirates all-star pitcher, and enigma, Steve Blass, who had already put together a very nice Major League career before it would be derailed because of inexplicable lack of control:

I realize his 1974 card has a very similar picture, maybe even from the same game, but it’s such a classic follow-through I had to use it for the In-Action card.
For Blass, he was coming off of a World Championship winning effort in the 1971 Series against the Baltimore Orioles, as well as a 15-8 record with a 2.85 earned run average when this card would have come out.
In 1972 he would have his best season as a big league pitcher, going 19-8 with a 2.49 ERA over 33 appearances, 32 of which were starts.
That would give him a lifetime 100-67 record at this point, but then without reason the floor went out from under him, as he could not control his pitches, to the point where his career was over after only 23 starts in 1973 and one single start in 1974.
To put things in perspective, Blass walked 84 batters in 1972 over 249.2 innings pitched., yet in 1973 he walked the exact same amount of batters, but in only 88.2 innings.
Without reason, Blass’ career was over and he was still only 32 years old, barely one season from a second place finish in the National League Cy Young Award.


  1. I wonder if Steve's troubles changed the fortunes for the early to mid-1970's Pirates (The Lumber Company). In 1973 (when Blass went 3-9 in 18 starts) The Bucs finished 2.5 games back of the Pennant winning Mets. In 1974, the Pirates won the NL East and lost 3-1 to the Dodgers in the NLCS...if you really stretched and had a successful Blass replace Rooker in the playoff starts you could make a case for Pitt making that series closer (including a possible Blass start in game 5). In 1975 I don't think anything could have helped the Pirates against the Big Red Machine in the NLCS. I always like thinking about baseball "What If"s.

  2. The similar pose to his 1974 card brings up an interesting question. I wonder if there were ever any Topps cards in the 70s that used very similar action shots for a player in different years?

    1. Ralph Garr in 1974 and 1975. But it was such a great shot, it deserved to be used twice.

    2. I always thought the 78/79 Darrell Evans cards were so similar for two different photos used. The Garr mentioned by Dave is a classic shot! There are others, just can't think of it right now.

  3. The Darrell Evans cards are close indeed. I can't believe I don't remember the'74 & '75 Ralph Garr cards using the exact same photo!!!!



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