1975 “MVP” Project: 1960 Topps Dick Groat

I loved the 1975 Topps MVP subset when I was a kid, and spent a lot of time poring over the images of vintage Topps cards. I’ve decided if getting all of the featured cards isn’t a realistic goal for me, that doesn’t mean I can’t get *some* of the cards.

Here’s my card from the 1975 subset, one that I’ve had for 47 years…

And here’s the card I got earlier this year:

Before I get into why Dick Groat was the NL MVP, I should mention that all 22 of the first place votes for NL MVP were divided among three Pittsburgh Pirates: 16 for Groat, 5 for 3B Don Hoak (who finished 2nd overall) and 1 for Roberto Clemente (who finished 8th).

The Pirates were not heavily favored going in to the 1960 season, having gone 78-76 (4th place, 9 GB) in 1959.  They won the National League pennant with 95 wins (7.0 games ahead of the Milwaukee Braves) and would beat the Yankees in the World Series in 7 games, with Game 7 being one of the greatest games in history (which I mention even though the World Series does not factor into MVP voting).

Why was Dick Groat the 1960 NL MVP?

  • Lead the NL with a .325 batting average, beating Dodger Norm Larker on the last day of the season.  A National League shortstop would not lead the league in batting again until Hanley Ramirez in 2009
  • Lead the Majors with 154 singles and was third in the NL with 186 hits
  • Went 6-for-6 in a May 13 game against Milwaukee;  he had 3 singles, 3 doubles, 2 runs and also had two hits in the Pirates’ 8-run 7th inning

Overall I presume that this was a matter of “You have to see him play every day”, because everything I found on Groat’s 1960 MVP season boiled down to “He was a flashy shortstop who got a lot of hits”, and while that’s impressive it doesn’t in and of itself say “MVP!”

Before I go, I’ll mention that Groat was a basketball All-American at Duke University and went from Duke to the Pirates without ever playing in the minor leagues.

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8 thoughts on “1975 “MVP” Project: 1960 Topps Dick Groat

  1. He hit 2 Home runs and had 50 RBIs. No one in our lifetime will ever win the MVP with those statistics. But he truly was the Most Valuable in the League in 1960 on a team that won the pennant and eventually the World Series, Baseball was a different game back then. .

  2. In those days batting titles were a big deal. I don’t think anyone was arguing the Jeff McNeil was to be the MVP this season.

    By WAR that year Willie Mays was the clear MVP; he finished third. Hank Aaron was second in WAR and finished 11th in the voting. Groat was 12th in the NL (not the majors, just the NL) in WAR that season.

      • Good point. The Pirates won the pennant by 7 games; I suppose they figured no one on a team which finished 7 or more games out could be that valuable. Like people these days who argued against Trout or Ohtani’s MVP wins because the Angels could have missed the playoffs without them. The difference being that it’s been decades since only one team in the league made the post-season.

  3. Back in 1960 there were only 8 teams in the NL, they only played 154 games, 22 games against each team. Baseball was much better back then, before they started expanding up to the current 30 teams. The format was great, you won your division, then made the world series. No wild card teams, which meant other teams couldn’t back into the playoffs. Back to Dick Groat, he surely beat up the Phillies that year. With players constantly seeing each other on the field, they would get to know the opposition better & adjust. Love seeing player hi-lights from previous year, too bad card companies don’t put that on the back there cards anymore, even its for just the top 3 hi-lights from that year.

    • When I was in high school I found a book in the school library that was a guide the Majors for a particular year in the 1950’s (I no longer remember which year). I fell in love with the idea of everybody playing everybody else 11 games at home and 11 on the road.

  4. One of my favorite vintage subsets when I was growing up. It gave me a chance to own a vintage card of a superstar. I’m a big fan of the 1960 Topps design. Might have to chase down a Groat and Maris for my binder.

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