The 1970’s, A To Z: Mark Fidrych to Al Fitzmorris

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.


MARK FIDRYCH

1977 Topps #265

Played 1976 – 1980
1970’s Teams: Tigers

1970’s Highlights:
Everything about Mark Fidrych ends up talking about his incomparable 1976 rookie season. In 1976, his All-Star, ROY, Cy Young Runner-Up season he broke in by going 19-9 with a MLB-leading 2.34 ERA and a league-leading 24 complete games. Was also famous for his quirky behavior like talking to the ball and getting down and smoothing the mound with his hands; Named to the 1976 Topps All-Star Rookie team; Starter for AL in the 1976 All-Star Game, but gave up two runs in the first inning and took the loss; His arm “went dead” in a game against the O’s on July 4th 1977 and he was never the same after that

Fun Stuff… as if everything about “The Bird” isn’t fun stuff:
Was among the first athletes to make the cover of the Rolling Stone (“Gonna send five copies to my mother!”); Appeared in the 1985 movie “The Slugger’s Wife”

Card Stuff:
His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card is missing the All-Star banner and the Rookie Cup; If you consider everything of his from 1977 to be a “rookie card”, then he has a rookie card in 1977 Kellogg’s, Hostess and various MSA disk sets


ED FIGUEROA

1976 SSPC #190

Played 1974 – 1981
1970’s Teams: Angels, Yankees

1970’s Highlights:
Over the period from 1976-1978, Figueroa’s 55 wins was bested only by Jim Palmer, Steve Carlton, Dennis Leonard, and J.R. Richard;  Was the first Puerto Rican pitcher to win 20 games, doing so in 1978 when he went 20-9 and got some Cy Young consideration;  Finished 4th in the 1976 Cy Young voting (behind Jim Palmer and – you guessed it – Mark Fidrych) after winning 19 games;  Despite all this success over that three year period, he was never named an All-Star

Fun Stuff:
“FIGUEROA” contains the vowels A, E, I, O and U (but not ‘sometimes Y’)


ROLLIE FINGERS

1974 Topps #212

Played 1968 – 1985
1970’s Teams: A’s, Padres

1970’s Highlights:
Was named the MVP of the 1974 World Series after getting a win and two saves on top of a 1.93 ERA;  Won the 1977 & 1978 Fireman of the Year Award;   In his last regular-season appearance of 1975 (9/28) he pitched two innings to finish off a combined no-hitter with Vida Blue, Glenn Abbott and Paul Lindblad;  Got 2 first place votes in 1975 AL MVP voting (Fred Lynn got the other 22);  Pitched 7 innings of 2-hit, 7 K relief in the A’s 20-inning 1-0 win over California, July 9, 1971

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992;  Was in the 2018 inaugural class of the Athletics’ Hall of Fame;  Also on the Brewers Wall of Honor; His #34 was retired by both the A’s and Brewers;  Won both the 1981 Cy Young and MVP awards while leading the league with 28 saves;  Was an All-Star seven times;  Set a record for career saves (which is currently held by Mariano Rivera)

Fun Stuff:
In 1976 he was sold to the Red Sox for $1M before Commissioner Bowie Kuhn nixed it and several other “fire sale” deals;  Fingers was, on paper, on the Cardinals roster for four days in December 1980… The Cards had also traded for Bruce Sutter and new GM Whitey Herzog made a deal after the Brewers called looking to make a trade;  has a .143 postseason batting average, but it says a lot that a reliever even has postseason at-bats


CARLTON FISK

1977 Topps #640

Played 1969 – 1993
1970’s Teams: Red Sox

1970’s Highlights:
His best known moment is probably his Fenway Park walk-off homer to tie up the 1975 World Series at 3 games apiece; In 1972 he was unanimously voted the 1972 AL Rookie of the Year, won a Gold Glove and was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team; Was the starting catcher in the 1973, 1977 and 1978 All-Star games;

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000;  Won three Silver Slugger awards;  His #27 was retired by the Red Sox and his #72 was retired by the White Sox;  Set records for games caught and home runs by a catcher, both records since broken;  hit a record 72 home runs after turning 40;  Was an 11-time All-Star

Card Stuff:
That’s the Yankees’ Willie Randolph attempting to score on Fisk’s 1977 Topps card


AL FITZMORRIS

1976 SSPC #160

Played 1969 – 1978
1970’s Teams: Royals, Indians, Angels

1970’s Highlights:
Set Royals record in 1976 by going 118 innings without allowing a homer; Won a career best 16 games in 1975; Batted .290 (9 for 31) in 1970 and had a career .242 average (most of his at bats, or course, came before the DH was implemented in 1973); Was named the AL Player of the week 8/25/74 (got two wins including a shutout);   First Royal to get hits as lefty and righty in same game 7-19-70;

Fun Stuff:
Was originally drafted as an outfielder by the White Sox; Fitzmorris was taken in two expansion drafts — first taken by the Royals in 1968, and then by the Blue Jays in 1976 (although he was immediately flipped to Cleveland in a deal which brought Alan Ashby to Toronto)

Card Stuff:
Fitzmorris appeared on a 1979 card with the Angels after pitching for them in 1978, but he had signed with San Diego for 1979, didn’t make the team and never pitched in the Majors again

 

5 thoughts on “The 1970’s, A To Z: Mark Fidrych to Al Fitzmorris

  1. You’ve done it again, Joe! Another eye-opening report. With 5 ABs in 1969, Fisk was among the rarest MLB players who played in four decades. And hitting 72 HRs after the age of 40 — especially for a catcher — is nothing short of amazing. I was also astonished to read that pitcher Al Fitzmorris was the first KC Royal to get hits from both sides of the plate, an honor usually reserved for an everyday player. Keep ’em coming, Joe!

  2. That ’74 Fingers is a massively underrated baseball card. I rarely see it mentioned anywhere, but it’s as good as anything that came out in the ’70s. Guess I’m as guilty as anyone – not sure I’ve ever shown it in the history of my own blog!

  3. Rollie Fingers was on a Oakland A’s team that dominated the early 70’s. A team that had great pitching to go along with spectacular fielding & hitting, a team that could have dominated the 70’s if it weren’t for Finley there owner. Mark Fidrych was unique personality on the mound. Overall a very good article.

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