It all started with a 1975 Topps buyback in one of Night Owl’s posts. He highlighted a 1975 Topps Tommy Hutton buyback card he got in a trade package, one similar to this…
…and my reaction was “This card is less thoroughly familiar than it should be!” You see, 1975 Topps is one of the sets I pored over endlessly as a kid, and at one point I knew each and every card like the back of my hand. This Tommy Hutton card was ever so slightly less familiar; I merely knew it like the the palms of my hands.
I decided that this simply will not do, that quality time with those 1975 Phillies cards was needed. “Fetch me my scanner and 1975 Topps binder!“, I exclaimed.
…Well, not really… because this was fairly early Sunday morning, and the only household members who were awake were the cats, who – if they could be bothered responding – would have told me “Go fetch it yer damn self, Mr. Opposable Thumbs”.
The 1975 Phillies, lead by manager Danny Ozark, finished with an 86-76 record. They finished in 2nd place, 6.5 games behind the NL East champion Pittsburgh Pirates. The Bucs would get swept in the NLCS by the eventual World Champion Cincinnati Reds.
Here’s the back of the checklist, which I share mainly to show how carefully young Joe inked in his checklist boxes. I like to think that it was less about being compulsive and more about the neatly-filled boxes are more visually pleasing.
BEST POSITION PLAYER
Mike Schmidt, of course. In 1975 he hit 38 homers with 93 runs, 95 RBI. We won’t mention the league-leading 180 strikeouts or the .249 batting average. The Baseball Reference page for the 1975 Phillies lists Schmidt as the best player with a 7.7 WAR.
Here’s an unexpected Mike Schmidt stat: In 1975 he lead the team with 29 stolen bases. When I think of Mike Schmidt, steals are pretty much the last thing I think of.
Steve Carlton, of course… although arguments could be made for Larry Christenson (11-6, 3.67). Carlton went 15-14 with a 3.56 and had 14 complete games and 3 shutouts.
FAVORITE CARD, BEST ON-FIELD SHOT
I could easily have gone with the awesome Steve Carlton card, but I decided to give these honors to Willie Montanez; incidentally, he’d get traded on May 4th, 1975 for Garry Maddox and since this was before the first Star Wars movie came out, nobody told Willie “May the fourth be with you!” as he left the clubhouse.
People today complain about players who flip their bats; Willie Montanez got people complaining about how he flipped his glove. When he played first, when he caught the ball he did a little snap of the wrist to add a little flair to the process. Of course, sometimes he’d flip his glove back and the ball would come out.
Guerrant MacCurdy “Mac” Scarce got this honor when I did the 1974 Phillies team, and nothing has changed (except that Mac Scarce pitched for the Mets in 1975)
…And as I’d mentioned in that previous post, his full name is even better than the name on the front of the card.
Mac Scarce was part of the return when the Phillies acquired Tug McGraw, but Scarce faced all of one batter in his Mets career. On April 11, 1975, the Mets were leading 3-0 entering the 9th in Pittsburgh and starter Jerry Koosman was still in the game. Koosman gave up three singles and was replaced by Rick Baldwin. Baldwin walked a batter, got a popout and then a 2-run single to Rennie Stennett. With the game tied, runners on first and second and one out, manager Yogi Berra brought in lefty Mac Scarce to face Richie Hebner. Hebner singled to left and drove in the winning run. Four days later, Scarce was traded to the Reds for pitcher Tom Hall. Scarce never pitched in the Majors for Cincinnati.
BEST ROOKIE CARD
This wasn’t much of a competition, as the 1975 Rookie Pitchers card featuring Tom Underwood is the only rookie card in this team set. Underwood would be the LHP on the 1975 Topps All-Star Rookie team, and would go on to pitch 11 seasons with 6 different teams.
BEST 1975 PHILLIES POSITION PLAYER WITHOUT A 1975 PHILLIES CARD
Garry Maddox, obtained for the aforementioned Willie Montanez, batted .291 with 50 runs and 46 RBI in 99 games with the Phillies.
BEST 1975 PHILLIES PITCHER WITHOUT A 1975 PHILLIES CARD
Tug McGraw, obtained in a December 3, 1974 trade with the Mets, split closing duties with Gene Garber. Tugger went 9-6, 2.98 and 14 saves.
MOST NOTABLE AIRBRUSHING
…Goes to the other half of the closer combo, Gene Garber. It’s actually a pretty good airbrush job, but the jersey shouldn’t be plain white, and the cap isn’t quite the right shade of red.
Garber lead the league with 71 games and 47 games finished, and tied Tug McGraw for the Phillies team lead with 14 saves. Garber had been purchased from the Royals on July 12, 1974, and made 34 appearances with the Phils in 1974, so there’s really no good reason why he’s airbrushed here.
GUY WITH A STAR ON HIS CARD
Larry Bowa was the starting shortstop on the 1974 NL All-Star Team, but he would be replaced by Dave Concepcion in 1975.
1975 LEADER IN MULTIPLE CATEGORIES #1
In 1975 Dave Cash lead the Majors in hits (213), singles (166), plate appearances (766) and at-bats (699), and was tied for the lead in games (162, natch). Baseball Reference lists Cash as the Phillies second-best player (5.1 WAR)
1975 LEADER IN MULTIPLE CATEGORIES #2
Greg Luzinski lead the Majors in RBI (120) and Total Bases (322). He also tied with Atlanta’s Ralph Garr for the most intentional walks in the National League (17; Rod Carew lead the Majors with 18).
You can’t really tell from this scan, but this card looks like it was carried in someone’s back pocket for an extended period of time. It wasn’t *my* pocket, I promise you I took better care of my cards than that. This is a placeholder card that’s been waiting 45 years to be upgraded… Maybe I should get around to that… someday…
I liked the cartoon, but I have to admit I didn’t know who Ice Box Chamberlain is until I looked him up. He was a 19th century pitcher who won 32 (!) games with the 1889 St. Louis Browns of the American Association.
1974 HOME RUN LEADERS CARD
Mike Schmidt lead the Majors with 36 homers; Johnny Bench came in second with 33 and AL leader Dick Allen and Jim Wynn were tied for third overall with 32 homers.
1974 STRIKEOUT LEADERS CARD
Steve Carlton lead the NL with 240, which was a distant second to MLB leader Nolan Ryan; The Ryan Express lead the Majors with 367, and “Circle Me, Bert” Blyleven had 249.
I SUPPOSE I SHOULD SAY SOMETHING ABOUT TOMMY HUTTON
Hutton played primarily for the Phillies, but also played for the Expos, Dodgers and Blue Jays. He was the first baseman on the 1972 Topps All-Star Rookie team (although his 1973 card did not feature a trophy), and with the Phillies in 1975 he was a first baseman, right fielder and pinch-hitter.
MOST COMMON COLOR PAIRING
Since we’re talking about 1975 Topps, I feel the need to count up the colors used in this team set. The most common combo is Green/Yellow, which appears 4 times out of 27 cards.
In 1975, Ollie Brown was part of a platoon with Jay Johnstone and achieved a career high .303 batting average.
The Breakdown of the rest:
3 cards: Purple/Magenta, Yellow/Light Blue, Yellow/Red, Orange/Orange
2 cards: Brown/Tan, Orange/Yellow, Pink/Yellow (both league leader cards)
1 card: Orange/Brown, Green/Green, Green/Purple