The 1970’s, A To Z: Hector Cruz to Mike Cuellar

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


HÉCTOR “HEITY” CRUZ

1977 Topps #624

Played 1973 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, Reds

1970’s Highlights:
Named the 1975 Sporting News and Topps Minor League Player of the year; The Cardinals traded 3rd baseman Ken Reitz to the Giants so that Cruz could take over at 3rd in 1976, but then, unsatisfied with Cruz, got Reitz back from San Fran after the season; Cruz got two first place votes in the 1976 NL Rookie of the Year voting and finished 3rd behind co-winners Pat Zachry and Butch Metzger; Hit a double and scored a run in the 1979 NLCS (Reds vs. Pirates)

Fun Stuff:
Brothers Héctor, José and Tommy Cruz were briefly teammates with the 1973 Cardinals; Héctor played a season in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants


JOSÉ CRUZ

1977 Topps #42

Played 1970 – 1988
1970’s Teams: Cardinals, Astros

1970’s Highlights:
In 1977 he lead the Astros in batting average (.299) and triples (10)

Career Highlights:
Owns the Astros’ career record with 80 triples; batted .300 or better in 5 seasons with Astros, only Jeff Bagwell did that more; Lead the NL in 1983 with 189 hits; In the 1980s he was named to two All-Star teams and won two Silver Slugger awards; Was named Most Valuable Astro four times; His #25 was retired by the Astros in 1992 and he was named to the Astros Hall Of Fame’s inaugural class in 2019

Fun Stuff:
Is the father of José Cruz, Jr. (imagine that!) who played for a number of Major League teams from 1997 to 2008


JULIO CRUZ

1978 Topps #687

Played 1977 – 1986
1970’s Teams: Mariners

1970’s Highlights:
Was drafted by the Mariners from the Angels organization and was a mid-season call-up for the M’s in their first season; Was among the league leaders in stolen bases in 1978 (finishing second to Ron LeFlore) and 1979 (finishing third behind Willie Wilson and LeFlore); Lead AL 2nd basemen in fielding percentage in 1978

Career Highlights:
While playing for the White Sox in the 1983 ALCS, Julio went 4-for-12 with 2 stolen bases

Card Stuff:
Cruz carried a Roberto Clemente card in his wallet while he played in the minor leagues; Had a card in 1979 Hostess


MIKE CUBBAGE

1978 Topps #219

Played 1974 – 1981
1970’s Teams: Rangers, Twins

1970’s Highlights:
Was the Twins regular third baseman in 1977 and 1978; Hit for the cycle against the Blue Jays on July 27, 1978

Career Highlights:
Served as the interim manager of the Mets in 1991

Fun Stuff:
His cousin is long-time catcher Larry Haney; Was involved in a 1978 trade which saw Bert Blyleven go from Minnesota to Texas; Is currently a Special Assistant to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo

Card Stuff:
Shared a 1975 rookie card with Doug DeCinces and Manny Trillo


MIKE CUELLAR

1972 Topps #70

Played 1959 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Orioles, Angels

1970’s Highlights:
Was one of four 20-game winners on the 1971 Orioles team (along with Jim Palmer, Pat Dobson and Dave McNally); Hit grand slam off Jim Perry in game 1 of 1970 ALCS vs Twins but Cuellar did not get the win after giving up 10 hits & 6 earned runs in 4.1 innings; In 1970 he lead the league with 24 wins, a .750 winning percentage and 21 complete games; Got as many first place votes in 1970 AL Cy Young award voting as did winner Jim Perry, but Cuellar finished fourth in a tight vote

Career Highlights:
Tied with Denny McLain for the 1969 Cy Young award; Had 185 career wins and won 20+ games four times; Got the only Orioles win vs. Mets in the 1969 World Series, a complete game in Game 1; Was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 1982; His 2.22 ERA in 1966 was second only to Sandy Koufax and better than Juan Marichal, Jim Bunning and Bob Gibson

1970s non-highlights:
Gave up Harmon Killebrew’s 500th home run in 1971; The Orioles released the 39-year-old Cuellar after the 1976 season and the Angels signed him for 1977, but in a relief appearance vs. the A’s he gave up 2 hits and a run (plus a blown save) without getting any outs, and then in a start against the Yankees he got knocked around, giving up 7 hits and 6 runs in 3.1 innings. The Angels released him two weeks later.

Card Stuff:
Is featured on the ALCS Game 1 card in 1970 Topps; He pitched just two games for the Reds in 1959, but that got him cards in 1959 and 1960 Topps (using the same photo THREE times, twice on the 1960 card). He would not pitch in the majors again until 1964 with the Cardinals, and he made his sole baseball card appearance with St. Louis in 1965 Topps. He never appeared on a card with the Angels.

7 thoughts on “The 1970’s, A To Z: Hector Cruz to Mike Cuellar

  1. Letting pitchers in the AL hit before the DH is how the game was meant to be. Pitchers were some of the best athletes in baseball, they can field & hit where they can put anywhere in the line-up. Until 1973 where the DH came along & ruined it. Watching the pitcher bat is perhaps the most exciting part of the game where anything can happen. Now they want to put the DH in the NL, I hope it doesn’t happen. Some of the pitchers in both leagues can hit better the DH. Mike Cuellar hitting a grand slam in a playoff must have been really exciting, I remember watching Joe Blanton hit a homerun in the 2008 world series vs the rays, letting the pitchers hit is very interesting to watch.

  2. Tommy Cruz spent six years in Japan with the Nippon-Ham Fighters from 1980-85. Hector was with Yomiuri in 1983. The Fighters and Giants shared Korakuen Stadium at the time so while they weren’t on the same team, they played their home games at the same ballpark.

  3. Pingback: The 1970’s, A To Z: Don Gullett to Larry Haney | The Shlabotnik Report

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