I’ve been reviewing some running themes that I’ve had during the 11+ years of this blog and I was surprised that it’s been over a year since I did a “Team Review” post. I usually pick a team at random, but in this case I wanted to feature a team set from 1977.
For those new to this long-running (and clearly long-neglected) series, I take a completed team set from my collection and highlight players and cards which fall under certain categories.
The 1977 Cardinals went 83-79, finishing in 3rd place, 18 games behind the division champion Phillies… but showed an improvement over the 90-loss 1976 Cardinals team under Red Schoendienst. Vern Rapp was at the helm for that improvement, but his disciplinarian tendencies did not go over well with the team’s veterans and he was fired after a 6-11 start to 1978.
In 1976 the Cardinals were one of the teams who would wear ‘pillbox’ caps as part of the National League’s centennial. The Pirates, of course, are famous for sticking with that cap for a number of years but the Cardinals also wore those caps a fair amount in 1976… I’m going to point out some examples of that as we go along.
BEST POSITION PLAYER
Ted Simmons is one of two Hall of Famers in this team set and was also a 1977 All-Star. He lead the league with 25 intentional bases on balls and lead the team in homers (21), RBI (95), Slugging % (.500) and on-base % (.408)
If you look closely you can see that Simmons was wearing a pillbox cap that day. His uniform also includes a sleeve patch for the National League’s 1976 centennial. Also remember that this was 1976, so he is NOT checking his phone.
Bob Forsch had 20 wins against just 7 losses and his 3.48 ERA was tied for the best among the team’s starting pitchers.
Forsch and his brother Ken also appeared in the “Big League Brothers” subset.
SECOND BEST PITCHER WHO’S ALSO WEARING A PILLBOX CAP
Eric Rasmussen lead the team with 120 strikeouts, 11 complete games and 3 shutouts.
BEST ROOKIE CARD
Garry Templeton was a 1977 All-Star and may be best known in St. Louis as the guy they traded to San Diego for Ozzie Smith (although there were other players involved in the trade). In 1977 Templeton lead the league with 18 triples and lead the team with a .322 average. As you can see by the trophy on the front of the card he had been named the shortstop on the 1976 Topps All-Star Rookie team, meaning that this is one of those cases where the rookie card came after the rookie season.
MY FAVORITE CARD
Lou Brock is the other HOFer in this set. During the 1977 season he would pass Ty Cobb for the career stolen bases record. I can’t fully explain why this card is my favorite from this team set, but the “pillbox helmet” doesn’t hurt. Nostalgia is a powerful drug.
AS A METS FAN I’M OBLIGATED TO INCLUDE THIS CARD
Keith Hernandez lead the team with 41 doubles, so I can rationalize his inclusion that way as well
Mike Tyson was a regular with the Cardinals and Cubs… And oh yeah, there’s also this boxer who came along later and has the same name.
MOST NOTABLE AIRBRUSHING
It was years before I realized that this card is airbrushed, but John D’Acquisto pitched for the Giants in 1976, and the Topps artist carefully colored the uniform numbers and name-on-back, airbrushed a Cardinals cap and the sansabelt waistband and striping on the pants. Artistry!!!!
BONUS 1977 O-PEE-CHEE CARD
O-Pee-Chee apparently didn’t care for the shadows across Pete Falcone’s face, so much so that they took a 1975 photo of him with the Giants and airbrushed the cap.
FATHER OF A MAJOR LEAGUER (AND PILLBOX CAP!)
Tom Walker is the father of infielder Neil Walker (who played in the Majors from 2009 to 2020). Dad didn’t pitch for the Cardinals in 1977, instead he was released near the end of spring training, hooked up with the Expos and over the summer he was claimed on waivers by the Angels and put in his final Major League innings.
BEST CAMEO APPEARANCE ON ANOTHER PLAYER’S CARD
That’s catcher Joe Ferguson’s back on Bobby Murcer’s card. Interestingly enough, both players were airbrushed into other uniforms in 1977 O-Pee-Chee… Murcer got traded to the Cubs, Ferguson to the Astros.
BEST IDEA THAT I COULDN’T FOLLOW THROUGH ON
I was going to include a card listed as “Best 1977 St. Louis (Football) Cardinals Card In My Collection”, but I have fewer 1977 Topps Football cards I’d realized and I don’t have any Cardinals from that set. Oh, well.
THE REST OF THE PILLBOX CAPS
And now it’s time for my belated quarterly Weigh-In. For those wondering what the deal is with a “Weigh-In”, here is my official Mission Statement:
Posting updates on the organizing and streamlining of my collection gives me a look at the big picture, keeps me honest and helps with motivation and/or guilt.
Changes in the 4th quarter of 2022 (from 10/2/2022 to 1/14/2023):
Net change in the collection: +802 (1,012 added, 210 removed)
Net change to the # of cards in the house: +295 (1,157 came in, 862 went out)
The 2022 Topps factory set I bought was more than offset by the 850 cards which were given out at Halloween… but I bought some other stuff on top of that, so overall we’re still on an upward trend.
Totals since I started tracking on 10/16/2011:
Total # of cards purged from the collection, to date: 16,272
Net change to the collection, to date: +8,041
Total # of cards which have left the house, to date: 56,200
Net change to the number of cards in the house, to date: -12,691
One of these days I’m going to make a Goodwill donation run and these numbers will look a bit better.
Size of the collection:
Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 73,915
Number of cards that make up the sets flagged as completed in my Access database: 11,987
…which means I’ve got at least 85,902 cards in my collection
Money spent on cards:
This does not count money spent on show admission, shipping, supplies, etc.
1st quarter, 2022: $57.19
2nd quarter, 2022: $224.46
3rd quarter, 2022: $31.79
4th quarter, 2022: $172.72
Average per month for 2022: $40.51
Average per month for 2021: $35.64
Average per month for 2020: $76.66
Average per month for 2019: $80.38
Average per month for 2018: $79.03
Average per month for 2017: $43.63
Average per month for 2016: $36.11
I didn’t track my spending before 2016. In 2016 and 2017 I didn’t go to many card shows because there weren’t any local shows, and I made the 5 hour round trip to a regional card show only once or twice a year.
I’m still well below my spending from 2018 – 2020, but part of it is me feeling a bit lost in where I want to take my collection going forward. Since receiving a COMC shipment in mid December there’s been very little going on with my collection.
Size of my MS Access card database:
I track my collection in a Microsoft Access database of my own creation. There’s quite a bit of work involved in keeping it up-to-date, so I like to satisfy my own curiosity by finding out how much information is currently in my database.
My database currently contains 1,044 set definitions and 259,365 card definitions (An increase of 12 sets and 2,931 cards since the last weigh-in).
It’s important to point out that this is merely the number of sets and cards which are represented within my database; Although I have no cards from 1949 Bowman, that set represents 1 set definition and 240 card definitions.