Category Archives: ’31 in 31′ – The 1970’s

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – The Review

That was a lot of fun.  It was nice to go back and remember some cool stats about some of the players that don’t get much attention these days.

It was also really cool keeping tabs on how the readers felt about my rankings.  I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with my picks, but that is also what makes this kind of thing fun for me.  I love to be educated on the topic of baseball and if that info comes from another blogger or reader of this site than I am more than excited to learn more.

I have to admit that the Mike Schmidt / Eddie Murray battle lasted for quite some time.  I changed my mind on this a few times as Schmidt was the more dynamic and defensively gifted player.  Had it not been for Murray’s excellence as a hitter for average, Schmidt would have certainly taken the prize.  In this case, 2nd place is not a terrible spot to be in.

Thank you to all of the people who kept up with this over the last 31 days.  ’31 in 31′ was a lot of fun and a little exhausting but I am extremely happy and proud of the end results.

And just in case you wanted to see the list again it is below for your reading pleasure.  I have also added a link on my page under ‘Categories’ if you ever want to look back at the write-ups I did on any of these talented players.

Enjoy!!!  I sure did…

January Rank Year Player
1 31 79 Carney Lansford
2 30 78` Lance Parrish
3 29 71 Dave Concepcion
4 28 76 Willie Randolplh
5 27 74 Ken Griffey, Sr. 
6 26 78 Jack Morris
7 25 78 Lou Whitaker
8 24 71 Don Baylor
9 23 75 Fred Lynn
10 22 71 George Foster
11 21 71 Steve Garvey
12 20 74 Dave Parker
13 19 75 Keith Hernandez
14 18 75 Jim Rice
15 17 70 Thurmon Munson
16 16 70 Vida Blue
17 15 77 Bruce Sutter
18 14 77 Dale Murphy
19 13 71 Bert Blyleven
20 12 77 Andre Dawson
21 11 76 Dennis Eckersley
22 10 75 Gary Carter
23 9 73 Rich Gossage
24 8 72 Carlton Fisk
25 7 74 Dave Winfield
26 6 79 Ozzie Smith
27 5 78 Robin Yount
28 4 75 Paul Molitor/Alan Trammell
29 3 75 George Brett
30 2 73 Mike Schmidt
31 1 78 Eddie Murray

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Honorable Mentions

Every list needs an honorable mention, right???  Well then, this is no exception. These guys were great and when speaking of players to debut during the 1970’s it is hard to not include them in the discussion even though they did not make the cut into the ‘Top 31’.

Away we go…

Ron Cey– the hobby knows this card as the Mike Schmidt rookie, but Ron Cey was a hell of a ballplayer.  Dominant in the LA Dodgers uniform, Cey made the all-star team 6 years in a row.  With 1,828 hits and 316 home runs, Cey offered quite a bit of pop to the talented Dodger line-up.  Cey helped lead the Dodgers to the World Series title in 1981 where he won the World Series MVP award after hitting .350 and driving in 6 runs.


Larry Bowa– Bowa was spectacular during the 2nd half of the 70’s.  With 5 all-star appearances in 6 seasons, Bowa’s consistent approach at the plate made him a reliable resource for the Phillies.  His 2,191 career hits with 318 stolen bases and 987 runs scored made him an offensive threat that took the Phillies to the World Series championship in 1980.


Bill Buckner– Remembered way to much for his error in the 1986 World Series, Bill Buckner was a solid contributor in the big leagues for 22 seasons.  With a career batting average of .289 alongside 174 home runs, Buckner was a solid threat each time he approached home plate.  With 4 Top 20 finishes in the MVP race, Buckner’s batting skills made him an annual threat for the batting title – he hit .300 or better in 7 seasons.


Dave Kingman– Mostly noted as a power hitter, Kingman makes the list for his incredible consistency to deliver the long ball.  With 442 career home runs, Kingman blasted 20 or more home runs 12 times in his 16 year career.  A 3-time All-star, if Kingman were to have played in an era in which his sole responsibility was as the designated hitter there would be no telling as to the kind of damage he could have done.


Whew.  I’m done!!!

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #1

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #1

Eddie Murray – 1978 Topps – #36

I have chosen Eddie Murray as the rookie that debuted in the 1970’s as the most complete baseball player while also having a significance in the hobby of collecting baseball cards.

Where do you start with this baseball superstar? 

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2003, Murray is one of the most deadly hitters the game of baseball has ever seen.   As a switch-hitter, Murray was indefensible.  He can be described as the perfect combination of power and control at the plate.  Murray is a member of the very small 3,000 hit & 500 home run club.  In the history of baseball, only 4 players have ever accomplished this spectacular feat and Murray is one of them(the others being Aaron, Mays, and Palmeiro).  With 3,255 hits and 504 homers Murray has distinguished himself as the best all-around hitter to debut during the 1970’s.  In addition to his incredible hits and home run numbers, Murray was also a key source of run production.  With 1,917 RBI and 1,627 runs scored over the course of his career, Murray was a constant force at the plate.

The awards and accolades on Murray’s resume are impressive – Rookie of the Year, 3-time Gold Glove winner, 3-time Silver Slugger winner, and an 8-time All-star.  And while Murray was never able to capture the MVP award, he did finish in the Top 10 in 8 times.

Eddie Murray played in 3 World Series contests and won 1 championship title with the 1983 Baltimore Orioles.

Congratulations go out to Eddie Murray who is ’30-Year Old Cardboard’s’ choice as the Top Rookie from the 1970’s!!!!


“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #2

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #2

Mike Schmidt – 1973 Topps – #615

I am treating this card the in the same manner that I am treating the Molitor/Trammell rookie card.  This is classified as a Mike Schmidt rookie card only.  Ron Cey had a wonderful career and is a personal favorite of mine, but to be fair it is very clear that the hobby sees this primarily as a Mike Schmidt rookie card.

Mike Schmidt’s credentials are as impressive as any player to play the game in the last 50 years.  If you were to look up the definition of a ‘power hitter’ and ‘defensive specialist’ you could very easily see a reference to Mike Schmidt in both sections.

Schmidt played for 18 seasons with the Philadelphia Philles and was and still is the face of the franchise for many baseball fans.  His raw power at the plate drew fans to the ballpark as he put on incredible displays of power while launching ball after ball into the outfield stands.  With 548 career home runs, Schmidt blasted 30 or more home runs in 12 of his 18 seasons in the majors.  And with 1,595 RBI, he certainly took advantage of have players on base when he was at bat.  Schmidt has a career batting average of .267 and hit .300 or better just 1-time.  But his job was to produce runs and that is exactly what he did – and at an unbelievable rate too.

And then there is the defense…  Schmidt was a 10-time Gold Glove winner at 3rd base.  His range, cannon of an arm, and desire to scoop up every ball hit in his direction made Schmidt the most dominant 3rd baseman during the 1980’s.

Elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1995, Schmidt was a 12-time All-star.  Schmidt may also be the most highly decorated player from the 1980’s as he won 3 MVP award – in 1980, 1981, and 1986. 

Mike Schmidt competed in 2 World Series match-ups – 1 in 1980 and 1 in 1983.  His Phillies team in 1980 won the title in 6 games but lost in 7 games in 1983 to the Baltimore Orioles.  During their drive to the title in 1980, Schmidt amazed the baseball world while hitting .381 with 2 home runs and driving in 7.  These impressive stats led to him being votes the World Series MVP of the 1980 Fall Classic.  Unfortunately in 1983 he could not duplicate his success as he accounted for just 1 hit in 20 at-bats and hit a poor .050.


“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #3

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #3

George Brett – 1975 Topps – #228

George Brett played a phenomenal 21 seasons with the Kansas City Royals.  Most players fade in such a small market, but Brett thrived and the baseball world took notice of this incredibly talented and entertaining player.

Brett’s offensive game was terrific.  A contact hitter with power, Brett was a force at the plate and was a threat to the opposition each time he batted.  With a career average of .305 and with 11 seasons to his credit of batting .300 or better, Brett was a master.  Add to that his 317 career home runs and 665 doubles and you have a near-perfect example of a combined power/finesse hitter.  Brett tallied 3,154 hits over the course of his career, which was good for 150 hits per season.

In 21 years, George Brett finished in the Top 20 for the MVP award 10 times.  In 1980 he won the award and had one of the greatest offensive seasons of the decade.  While batting a remarkable .390, Brett also crushed 24 home runs while driving in 118 runs.  In addition to that, Brett was an All-star that year and earned a Silver Slugger award as well(his 1st of 3).  Brett’s offensive game was so well-rounded that it earned him 13 All-star game appearances.

George Brett played in 2 World Series championships.  Brett’s Royals team lost in 1980 to the Phillies, but won the championship in 1985 versus the Cardinals.  Brett shined in all of his post season appearances.  In 43 games, Brett collected 56 hits giving him a .337 batting average.  To top it off, he also smacked 10 home runs and drove in 23 runs.  Brett won the ALCS MVP in 1985 when he hit .500 over the course of a 7-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays. 


“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #4

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #4

Paul Molitor w/Alan Trammell – 1978 Topps – #707

This was tough.  If you take the stats of both of these baseball studs and add them together you have an unstoppable force.  But how do you rate this card when you are trying to rank the best rookies from the 1970’s???  Puzzling for sure.  What I did was take the ‘bigger’ of the 2 stars which in my opinion is Paul Molitor.  So, there is no Alan Trammell post in this ’31 in 31′ story.  Unfortunately he falls short compared to Molitor so I am classifying this card solely as a Paul Molitor rookie card.

Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004, Paul Molitor had a brilliant 21-year career.  Never getting the opportunity to showcase his talents in front of a consistently large crowd, Molitor spent most of his career as an unheralded superstar.

With 3,316 career hits and a lifetime batting average of .306 Paul Molitor is one of the greatest hitters of the last 40 years.  For a player that was not classified as a ‘power hitter’ Molitor quietly bashed 234 home runs.  And while also never being classified as a ‘speedster’, Paul also accumulated 504 stolen bases.  This multi-dimensional player was a 7-time All-star, and he won 4 Silver Slugger awards as well.  Molitor finished in the Top 20 for the MVP award 9 times over the course of his career where his highest finish was coming in at 2nd place in 1993.

When Molitor got the opportunity to play in the World Series, he took full advantage and the world watched in awe.  Playing in the 1982 contest with the Brewers and then again in 1993 with the Blue Jays, Molitor put on a remarkable show.  In 13 games between the 2 series’, Molitor went 23 for 55 hitting a solid .418.  He also homered twice and drove in 11 runs.  Although his Brewers lost the championship in 1983, he did go on to win a title in 1993 and was voted World Series MVP for his dominant hitting performance in which he hit .500.


“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #5

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #5

Robin Yount – 1975 Topps – #223

Robin Yount ranks as #5 on my list of the Top 31 rookies from the 1970’s.  Had Yount played for a team that got more media attention, he could be even higher on the list.

Everything Robin Yount did, he did exceptionally well.  A hitter for power, a hitter for average, a base runner, you name it and he did it very well.  Yount was an offensive machine for 20 years as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.  In 20 big league seasons, Yount finished his career with 3,142 hits.  With those hits came 251 home runs and 271 stolen bases.  And if you add to that his 1,406 RBI and 1,632 runs scored you’ve got a potent mixture that creates the perfect offensive threat.

A 2-time MVP winner with 5 more Top 18 finises, Yount was widely accepted as one of baseball’s best players for 2 decades.  Yount is a 3-time All-star and a Gold Glove winner as well.  Yount reached the World Series in 1982 and lost to the Cardinals in 7 games.  In that series, Yount hit an amazing .414 as he collected 12 hits with 6 RBI.

Robin Yount was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1999. 


“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #6

 “31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #6

Ozzie Smith – 1979 Topps – #116

It’s not often that a player with 19 seasons of big league service would have his defensive skills admired more than his offensive ones.  But, Ozzie Smith is not the common baseball player.

‘The Wizard of Oz’ is considered by most baseball fans as being the greatest defensive player in baseball’s history.  With an unlimited amount of range, body control, and arm strength Ozzie made playing defense cool.  When all the rage was about getting your turn at bat, kids all of a sudden practiced their defense with dreams of making plays the way Ozzie made them.  Smith won the Gold Glove 13 consecutive seasons as the leagues best shortstop.  His reputation was so powerful that batters playing against his team would often change their approach at the plate as anything hit his way was sure to be an out.  Now that is respect!!

Offensively Smith was a singles hitter with a knack for getting on base and generating runs.  With 2,460 career hits, 1,961 of them were singles.  But when on base, Smith made the most of his opportunities.  Ozzie has 580 stolen bases and has scored 1,257 runs. 

Smith’s brilliance on defense and his keen base running skills earned him 6 Top 22 finishes for the MVP award.

Smith played in 3 World Series match-ups with the Cardinals and won his lone title in 1982.  Ozzie Smith was voted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.


“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #7

 “31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #7

Dave Winfield – 1974 Topps – #456

Dave Winfield is another prime example of a ‘5-tool player’.  With his amazing offensive and defensive skills, Winfield shined as a major leaguer for 22 seasons.  Winfield was a monster of a man.  Standing at 6 foot, 6 inches tall and weighing 220 pounds during his playing days, Winfield was physically imposing as he got in his batting stance.  And he wreaked havoc on opposing pitchers for more than 2 decades.  With a career batting average of .283, Winfield collected 3,110 hits during his career.  Add to that his impressive 465 home runs and 1,833 RBI, and you have an incredible power hitter.  But, the amazing thing about Winfield was his athletic ability.  Not too many guys his size were fast.  But Winfield was, and he proved it over and over again as he amassed 223 stolen bases during his career.  And in the field, he was brilliant!!  With his speed and an arm that launched baseballs like a cannon, Winfield was often recognized as one of the best arms in all of baseball.  Dave Winfield finished in the Top 12 for the MVP award 9 times.  He was a 12-time All-star, a 6-time Silver Slugger winner, and a 7-time Gold Glove winner. 

Dave Winfield played in 2 World Series contests – 1 in 1981 as a member of the New York Yankees, and 1 in 1992 with the Toronto Blue Jays.  Winfield ended up winning 1 championship ring in ’92 with the Blue Jays. 

Dave Winfield was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.


“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #8

 “31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #8

Carlton Fisk – 1972 Topps – #79

Carlton Fisk’s debut in the major leagues is one of most impressive by a rookie.  In 1972, ‘Pudge’ debuted for the Boston Red Sox and immediately made an impact on both offense and defense.  Fisk batted .293 while blasting 22 home runs and collecting 61 RBI.  On defense he secured the only Gold Glove of his career.  With this well-rounded play, Fisk won the Rookie of the Year award, finished 4thfor the MVP, and was named an All-star.  This was the first of 7 top 18 finishes for ‘Pudge’ in the MVP race.  With a career batting averageof .269 along with 376 home runs and 1,330 RBI, ‘Pudge’ had a consistently strong 24-season big league career.  Being able to play 24 seasons for just 2 teams, The Red & White Sox, Fisk was always considered a fan favorite and was wildly popular both during and after his playing days.

Fisk’s lone appearance in the World Series came in 1975 when his Boston Red Sox lost in game 7 to the Cincinnati Reds.  Although he did not win the title, the image of Fisk waving a ball ‘fair’ as it headed for the outfield still remains a World Series classic that is replayed every fall.  In that 7-game series, Fisk hit .240 while collecting 6 hits, 4 RBI, smashing 2 home runs, and scoring 5 times.