Contrast And Compare: Three From 1977 Burger King Yankees

I thought that some of you might appreciate having something to read this morning, so this is my Christmas gift to you. I hope your day is merry, no matter how you spend it!

I recently got a COMC shipment which contained a number of 1970’s Burger King cards. Here are the first three, all from the 1977 Burger King Yankees set, along with each card’s Topps counterpart.

Don Gullett turned a steady career with the Reds into a 6-year contract with the Yankees, and it was early enough in the offseason that Topps was able to airbrush him into a Yankees cap (and somehow mistakenly put his name in green type).

His 1977 Burger King Yankees card is a similar portrait, but shows him in an actual Yankees cap. His expression on the BK card seems to say “Can you believe how bad my Topps card is?”

Injuries curtailed Gullett’s career in the Bronx. He only pitched 2 seasons with the Yanks, and was done with baseball at the age of 27.

Jim Wynn spent 1976 with the Braves. I got to meet him and get his autograph that year, the first Major Leaguer I’d ever seen up close, and despite his 5’10” height which contributed to his knickname as “The Toy Cannon”, he seemed huge to me.

Wynn was purchased from the Braves during the offseason, a move reflected in his 1977 Burger King card.

He unfortunately put up anemic offensive numbers with the Yankees and was released in July. He’d hook up with the Brewers, but would not play after 1977.

Paul Blair was an 8-time Gold Glove center fielder with the Orioles.  His 1977 Topps card shows him in Yankee Stadium, which could be considered to be foreshadowing if not for many AL players having their photos taken at Yankee Stadium.

Like Wynn, the end of his career was approaching and the O’s traded him for for Elliott Maddox (who scarcely played for the O’s) and Rick Bladt (who played the season with AAA Rochester before the end of his pro career).

Blair would play the 1977 and 1978 seasons in the Bronx, get released early in 1979, hook up with the Reds and then go back to the Yankees in 1980 to close out his career.

I’ll close out with an interesting Paul Blair fact:  He played in 28 World Series games and 6 World Series – four with the O’s and two with the Yanks.

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Contrast & Compare: 1977 Burger King Bucky Dent & Mike Torrez

Bucky Dent and Mike Torrez will go down in history on opposite sides of one of the most famous at bats in the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry… But in 1977 they were teammates and both had cards in the 1977 Burger King Yankees set which were “variations” from that year’s Topps set.

We’ll start with Mike Torrez, a guy who ended up being in a lot of big trades. The Expos traded Torrez and Ken Singleton the Orioles for Dave McNally and two others, a trade that ended up weighing in the Orioles favor. The Orioles traded Torrez to Oakland in the deal that also saw Reggie Jackson and Don Baylor switching teams for a year.
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In 1977, Torrez started 4 games before being traded to the Yankees in a deal for Dock Ellis, Marty Perez and Larry Murray.
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Torrez would go 14-12 during the regular season and won 2 World Series games that October. He’d cash in on his success and sign a contract with the Red Sox.

Moving on to Bucky Dent… Bucky came up with the White Sox and proved himself to be one of the better shortstops in the league.
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The Yankees knew they needed an outstanding shortstop, so just before the season started they sent Oscar Gamble and several other players to the White Sox for the Buckster.
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Bucky Dent also helped the Yankees get to the World Series in 1977, but the historical moment I’m talking about happened the following season.

At the end of the 1978 regular season, the Yankees and Red Sox finished with identical 99-63 records. The teams played a 1-game playoff in Fenway with Mike Torrez facing up against the Yankees’ Ron Guidry.

The Sox had a 2-0 lead going into the 7th inning. Torrez got Graig Nettles to fly out to right, but then gave up singles to Chris Chambliss and Roy White and then got pinch-hitter Jim Spencer to fly out to left.

It was at that point that Bucky Dent, who had 22 career homers at that point, hit the ball over the Green Monster to put the Yankees ahead to stay, and for many people Bucky Dent’s legal name became Bucky F’ing Dent.