The 1970’s, A To Z: Nolan Ryan to Ron Santo

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.


1971 Topps #513

I could do a whole post solely based on the Major League and team records which Nolan Ryan holds, but I’m going to try to stick to my “back of a baseball card” limit… more or less…

Played 1966 – 1993
1970’s Teams: Mets, Angels

1970’s Highlights:
Pitched four of his seven career no-hitters during the 1970s; Got his only start in an All-Star game in 1979; Broke Sandy Koufax’ single-season strikeout record by wiffing 383 in 1973; Made 5 of his 8 All-Star teams in the 1970s; The only seasons in the 1970s where he DIDN’T lead the AL in strikeouts was 1970 and 1971 (he was with the Mets and didn’t finish in the top 10) and 1975 when his 186 strikeouts was good for 6th place, 83 K’s behind teammate and leader Frank Tanana

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999; His 5,714 strikeouts are 839 more than Randy Johnson, who has the 2nd-highest strikeout total in history

Baseball Fun Stuff:
As many accolades as Nolan Ryan has accumulated, the closest he came to winning a Cy Young Award was in 1973 when he finished 2nd behind Jim Palmer; Was the last Angels pitcher to bat before the DH was implemented; Earned a save in his only World Series appearance (Game 3 of the 1969 World Series); Is the only player (other than Jackie Robinson, of course) to have his number retired by 3 teams – the Angels, Astros and Rangers; Was the first player to have played for the four original expansion teams (Mets, Angels, Astros and Senators/Rangers); Holds the Mets single-season record for walks (116 in 1971)

Extracurricular Fun Stuff:
Played himself on 3 episodes of the 1970s/1980s soap opera “Ryan’s Hope”

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s as well as every Hostess set of the 1970s; His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card is cropped tighter than his 1977 Topps card; Made a cameo apperance on Bud Harrelson’s 1971 card:

And now we’re moving on from R to S…


1971 Topps #406

Played 1960 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Mets, Cardinals, Braves, Royals, Brewers

1970’s Highlights:
Recorded a save for the Mets in game 4 of the 1973 World Series against Oakland

Career Highlights:
Won 20 games for the 1964 Cardinals, by far a career high; Got an RBI and the win in game 1 of the 1964 World Series; Was traded straight-up for HOFer Orlando Cepeda in 1966; His 206 strikeouts in 1968 was a San Francisco Giants record until Madison Bumgarner broke it in 2014

Fun Stuff:
Is the only pitcher that Bob Uecker hit two home runs off of; It’s apples and oranges, but Sadecki, as a batter, struck out 161 times over 789 career at bats – That’s striking out once every 4.9 AB. In contrast, Joey Gallo struck out 213 times over 498 ABs last year, that’s once every 2.3 AB, more than twice as often

Card Stuff:
Had an “In Action” card in 1972 Topps


1973 Topps #246

Played 1964-1976
1970’s Teams: Brewers, Twins, Indians, Angels, Mets, Royals

1970’s Highlights:
In 1971 he lead the AL with 31 saves, set a Major League record by finishing 77 games (a record broken by Mike Marshall in 1974), appeared in 83 games (currently a tie for the Brewers team record), got some MVP consideration and was named The Sporting News AL Fireman of the Year; Pitched five scoreless innings in relief in the Brewers 22-inning 4-3 win over Twins 5/12/72

Career Highlights:
Was named to the Brewers Wall of Honor

Card Stuff:
His 1973 Topps card, featured above, shows him with an airbrushed Phillies cap following an October 1972 trade, but he never played for Philadelphia – he was flipped to the Twins a month later; His 1966 “Rookie Stars” card came 5 years before his first solo card in 1971


1974 Topps #28

Played 1967 – 1980
1970’s Teams: Pirates, A’s

1970’s Highlights:
An All-Star in 1971, 1972 and 1975; Was traded to the A’s with $100,000 for manager Chuck Tanner; Initially replaced Roberto Clemente in right field, but the experiment failed and he went back behind the plate; Won World Series with the Pirates in 1971 and 1979 and hit .379 during the 1971 series; Was 3rd in NL Batting in 1970 and 1975

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s; His 1977 O-Pee-Chee uses a photo different from 1977 Topps (but both are airbrushed)


1974 Topps #270

Played 1960 – 1974
1970’s Teams: Cubs, White Sox

1970’s Highlights:
Started the 1973 All-Star Game at 3rd base and was also an All-Star in 1971 and 1972

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012; Was a nine-time All-Star; Won five Gold Glove awards; Hit 20+ homers 11 times; Holds a Cubs record with 14 sacrifice flies in 1969; His #10 was retired by the Cubs; Was named to the 1960 Topps All-Star Rookie Team

Fun Stuff:
Was one of the first players to veto a trade under the “10 and 5” rule which gave a player the ability to refuse a trade if he had 10 years experience and 5 with the current club… After the 1973 season a trade was worked out to send him to the Angels, but Santo didn’t want to play on the west coast and was traded to the White Sox instead

Card Stuff:
Is one of a relatively few number of players to have the Topps All-Star Rookie trophy on his rookie card (1961 Topps); Appears in 1975 Topps but had retired after the 1974 season; I’ve always liked the cartoon on the back of his 1974 card:

2 thoughts on “The 1970’s, A To Z: Nolan Ryan to Ron Santo

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