Friday, October 21, 2011

1977 St. Louis Cardinals

Call the 1970's the "Forgotten Decade" for the great Cardinal Franchise.  Sandwiched in between their dominant run in the late 1960's and their great run in the early to mid 80's the 1970's was a time of transition for the Cardinals.  Lou Brock was the lone remaining member representing the "old guard" of the great teams of the '60's.  By 1977 Bob Gibson had retired and Red Schoendienst was no longer the steady skipper behind the bench.  The Cardinals were looking to rebound from a rare 90 loss season in 1976 and Vern Rapp was able to lead them to a winning record.  St. Louis would finish a distant 3rd place in the NL East (18 games back), but fans were happy to see winning baseball return to the shores of the Mississippi.

Bob Forsch, who finished a disappointing 8-10 the previous season became the ace of the staff by winning 20 games (20-7, 3.48) and logging over 200 innings.  The rest of the rotation was average at best.  Eric Rasmussen (11-17, 3.48) experienced a lot of hard luck.  With an identical ERA to that of Forsch's Rasmussen won 9 less games and lost 10 more.  The pen was solid, except for the "Mad Hungarian", Al Hrabosky who faltered as a closer.  Hrabosky's 6-5 record featured a 4.38 ERA and 10 saves.  Rookie Joh Urrea was the workhorse of the pen logging almost 140 innings.  Former Cincy closer Rawly Eastwick signed a big contract and came up small (3-7, 4.70).

The Cardinals finished 4th in the league in batting.  21 year old shortstop Garry Templeton hit a robust .322 and stole 28 bases.  Catcher Ted Simmons hit .318 with 21 homers and 95 RBI's and was easily the team's most feared hitter.  38 year old Lou Brock managed to hit .272 and swipe an amazing 35 bases to help pace the offense.  Keith Hernandez' gold glove at first anchored a rock solid infield.  The true story of the team was it's bench.  With pinch hitter Roger Freed hitting close to .400 and getting clutch pinch hit after another the Cardinals could rally from behind and pull out games late.  Tony Scott hit .291 as a part time centerfielder and bench player.  Aging veteran Don Kessinger could still be counted on for his glove as a late inning defensive replacement and spot starter.

If the Cardinals can get their pitching to overachieve they just might have a chance to contend.

I added 21 new cards to round out the 1977 Cardinals full Topps set.

After 2 full seasons in the majors, Eastwick looked like a HOF caliber relief pitcher.  In his first full season (1975) he saved 22 games, won 2 in the World Series and saved another.  Not a bad way to start off your career.  The following season he was even better.  His ERA dropped 50 points, he added 4 more saves adn bumped up to 107 innings coming out of the pen for the repeat champion Reds.  1977 started out very similar to his first 2 seasons.  In 23 games with the reds he had 7 saves and a 2.91 ERA, but contract squabbles began to frighten the Reds.  Cincy shipped him over to St. Louis and the downward spiral began.  Who knows why it happened.  Was he just a product of a winning atmosphere ?  Did Sparky Anderson know how to best use him ?  It's inexplicable.  After 2 1/2 HOF caliber season Eastwick now looked like a triple A pitcher trying to hold on to the dream.  He would finish 3-7 with just 4 saves in 53 innings of work for the Cardinals and be granted free agency at year's end.  He would bounce from team to team over the next 4 seasons before his career was over after the 1981 strike season.

Bosetti arrived in the Gateway City as part of trading deadline deal along with Dane Iorg and Tom Underwood.  The Cards sent Bake McBride to Philadelphia in a deal that pretty much helped both clubs.  Bosetti would play in 41 games and hit .232 with no homers and just 3 RBI's.  At the end of the season he was sent packing to the Blue Jays, where he started in center field for the next two seasons.  The highligh of his career would be hitting .260 in 1979 while playing in all 162 games.  The following season Lloyd Moseby took over as the every day centerfielder and Bosetti's career began to spiral downward.  Unlike most outliers, Bosetti's numbers were actually better in the season where he played the most.  After that his playing time became limited and his numbers plummeted.  When researching some interesting facts about his career.  According to his bio page on I found out that he achieved his goal of urinating in the outfield of every major league park.  No doubt this is an impressive feat.  Even more impressive thatn him leading all AL outfielders in 1978 with putouts and repeating that the following year.  I just wonder when he found the time to pull this off ?  Did he actually urinate on the field itself or did he he perform the act during games without dropping his draws ?  I'm now intrigued beyond belief.  I was surprised to find an autographed photo of Bosetti on ebay considering the fact that he only spent a half season in St. Louis.  Knowing what he was up to in the outfield I'm thinking I wouldn't want to touch any photo that he hand signed.

You can read the mini-article that I did on Freed by clicking here.  Suffice it to say he had a magical season as a pinch hitter deluxe and almost eclipsed the .400 mark.  He will be the 1st guy off the bench in a key clutch situation late in the game.  I couldn't find any decent photos of him to use for the updated card, so I went with a cleaned up version of his '78 Topps card photo, which was taken @the Stick during the '77 season.

Duncan was a Rule 5 selection from the Orioles system.  He appeared in just 8 games in the month of September and went 4 for 12 (.333) and played a mean third base.  The A's selected him from the Cardials during the off season and he performed admirably hitting .257 in 319 at bats during the 1978 season, then mysteriously he was farmed out and never heard from again.  It was rumored that a severe ankle injury that he sustained while playing in the minors hampered his mobility and prevented him from being a solid major leaguer.  This was a interesting photo to work with.  Originally it pictured him wearing an A's uniform.  I copied the uniform and pasted it into into a new photo and turned it into gray scale.  Then I colorized it and changed the Oakland green to the Cardinals light blue.  I added the red sleeve color trim and "bleached" the yellow undershirt to white.  For good measure I cut and pasted a Cardinal Cap onto his head.

Good things seemed to happen to teams that Underwood played on, just not the Cardinals.  After arriving at the trade deadline as part of the McBride trade.  In 19 games (17 starts), he went 6-9 with a 4.95 ERA.  His tenure in St. Louis would end right after game 162, when he was shipped off to Toronto to complete a previous deal.  In his 11 year career he made the post season 4 times (Philly, Yanks & Oak).  Sadly he passed away last year (2010) due to Pancreatic cancer.  I used his 1978 Topps card photo for this one.  It is an airbrushed photo taken during spring training 1977.  If you look in the background you can see that there are two Phillies players.  They airbrushed a Cardinal home white jersey for him.

Scott arrived in St. Louis as part of a huge multiplayer trade with Montreal.  Neither team acquired or traded much.  Call it a "change of scenery" type of deal.  Scott, who hit .182 in 92 games with Montreal in 1975 was coming to the Cardinals straight from a one year banishment to the minors.  In 1977 he would split time in center with Jerry Mumphrey and hit .291 in close to 300 at bats.  He would not equal that success over the next 3 1/2 seasons in St. Louis.  In 1981 he was dealt to the Astros for Joaquin Andujar.  He duplicated his 1977 #'s in his first half season in Houston, but then fell back into the same rut that got him shipped out of St. Louis.  His 11 year career would come to an end after the 1984 season. I found this photo while doing a google search.  It had him sitting next to Templeton in the dugout with both guys looking like they would rather be someplace else or doing something else.  Scott's body language has that "Get me out of here" look.  I thought it would fit perfectly on a card since Topps made a regular habit of using dugout shots for their cards during this era.

Originally drafted by the Mets back in 1971, Ayala made a big splash in his major league debut in 1974 by hitting a homer in his first at bat.  Unfortunately for him the rest of the season was pretty much downhill from there.  He would resurface 2 seasons later (1976) for another cup of coffee with the Mets.  After hitting just .115 he knew his days were numbered.  The Mets shipped him off to the Cardinals, where he appeared in just 1 game in 1977 and went 1 for 3.  That would be the only action he would see as a Cardinal, which is why I was shocked to find an autographed photo of him in a Cardinal uniform, which I used for the updated card.  His best years would come starting in 1979 when he signed with the Orioles, who used him as a platoon player.  In his 6 seasons in Baltimore he would hit .257 with 33 homers as a part time DH and corner outfielder.  He would play on 2 pennant winners and 1 world champion.

After two horrible seasons playing for the Cubs Schultz arrived in St. Louis in a deal for a low level minor leaguer.  He responded with a career year by going 6-1 with a 2.32 ERA in 84 innings worth of work out of the pen.  He would stick around for 2 more season, but his numbers would get progressively worse.  After being send down to the minors for the 1980 season things completely unraveled for him.  A string of injuries an ineffectiveness led to him dropping from triple A to double A and then out of baseball.  His career highlight dates back to college where he set the NCAA record for most strikeouts in a game (26), while playing at the University of Miami.  This autographed photo was taken at Wrigley Field.  It looked to be outside the park, which was quite strange in itself.  I found it while doing a google search.

Metzger struggled with control issues for most of his career.  Somehow he was able to harness his wildness during the 1976 season where he went 11-4 with a 2.92 ERA and 16 saves.  He was rewarded by the BBWAA with the NL Rookie of the year award.  Only 17 games into the '77 season the Sophomore jinx took full control over Metzger.  With a 5.56 ERA and no saves the Padres had seen enough and he was dealt to the Cardinals on May 17th.  He finished out the season going 4-2 with a 3.11 ERA and 7 saves in 92 2/3 innings.  It looked like he was able to right the ship.  The Cardinals weren't convinced that that was the case and they sent him to the Mets where he couldn't find the strike zone if he had a GPS.  Going 1-3 with a 6.51 ERA in 25 games in Flushing earned him a trip to Tidewater (AAA).  While in the minors his issues got worse and he would never return to major league baseball.  This photo came from his 1978 Topps card, that was taken @ the Stick on what is most likely the same day that Roger Freed's photo was snapped.

Carroll was a big game post season reliever.  He allowed just five earned runs in 32.3 innings of post season work for the Reds from 1970-1976.  He led the NL in saves with 37 during the '75 season, which at the time was a MLB record.  The "Hawk" was a NL All-Star in 1971 and 1972.  He arrived in St. Louis at the end of Spring training in exchange for Lerrin LaGrow.  He would go 4-2 with a 2.40 ERA and 4 saves for the Cards in 52 games, before strangely being dealt back to the Chisox in August.  St. Louis was hovering near the .500 mark, while the Chisox who were in desperate need for pitching, were in the thick of a pennant race in the AL West.  Carroll was horrible in his 8 games on the South Side and wound up being released.  He caught on with the Pirates the following season for 2 games then retired with a 96-73 record and a 2.94 ERA over a 15 years career.  His best season were obviously in Cincinnati (71-43, 2.73).  This autographed 8x10 glossy photo was taken at Wrigley.

After arriving at the trade deadline as part of the McBride deal Iorg got into 30 games and hit a .313.  Over the next 6 1/2 seasons he would serve as the finest utility man in the NL.  Iorg played all 4 corner positions quite well, but just never hit for much in the way of power.  Still he had a fine bat for hitting line drives and making contact.  His .294 career average while a member of the Redbirds is nothing to sneaze at.  He would serve as St. Louis' DH in the 1982 World Series, vs Milwaukee, and hit .529 as the Cardinals captured their first world championship in 15 years.  Midway through the 1984 season he was dealt to cross state rival, the Kansas City Royals.  The following season he got a chance to face his old mates in an "all Missouri" series.  His walkoff RBI single in game 6 helped force a deciding game 7, which the Royals won easily to capture their first (and so far) only world title.  Surprisingly there weren't many good photos of Iorg to choose from, so I went with his 1981 Topps card head shot that was taken at Shea.

Capilla was hit hard in just two games worth of action during the '77 season, then was traded to the Reds for Rawly Eastwick.  He pitched in a grand total of 9 games during the two years that he saw limited duty for St. Louis.  The pitching starved Reds would press him into immediate service as a starter, where he went 7-8 with a 4.23 ERA.  While searching ebay I found this black and white shot.  I ran it through my new colorization process before using it for his updated '77 Card.

In an 18 year career as a 4th outfielder / DH, Dwyer made the rounds.  Having played for 7 different teams (3 twice) Dwyer found a way to be a key contributor off the bench while hitting .260 over the course of his career.  His best years were in Baltimore, where Earl Weaver used his unique skills to perfection.  As a member of the Cardinals, Dwyer served two tours of duty.  As a rookie in 1973 he appeared in 28 games as a Cardinal and posted a .193 average.  The following year he hit .279 in 86 at bats.  Midway through the '75 season he was dealt to Montreal.  A year later he wound up in Flushing.  In 1977 he returned to St. Louis and hit .226 in 13 games.  Taken at Wrigley, this 8x10 autographed photo was found on ebay.

Yougblood, who was a versatile player, started the '77 season with the Cardinals and played in 25 games.  He hit just .185 in 27 at bats before being sent to the Mets for Mike Phillips at the trade deadline.  To make room for him on the Mets roster, player/manager Joe Torre was forced to officially retire from active competition.  Youngblood would have a rock solid career playing 6 seasons for some very forgettable Mets teams.  On August 4, 1982 the Mets dealt Youngblood to the Montreal Expos.  Earlier in the day he played in a day game vs the Cubs at Wrigley and got a hit.  Excited to join his new ball club, Youngblood amazingly got a flight out of O'Hare and arrived in Philly just in time to play for the Expos, where he recorded another hit, thus becoming the 1st player in major league history to get a hit for 2 different teams on the same day.  Even more interesting is the fact that he recorded those hits off of two future HOF pitchers (Fergie Jenkins & Steve Carlton).

24 year old John Sutton made the most of his limited action with the Cardinals during the '77 season.  In 14 games he pitched 24 innings, compiled a 2-1 record with a 2.59 ERA.  For his troubles he was left unprotected and the Twins drafted him as a rule 5 eligible.  In '78 he got into 17 games for the Twins and pitched 44 innings, but had no record.  He would get set back down to the minors and never appear in another major league game.  While in the minors his numbers got worse and worse year in and year out until he was released by the Mariners chain in 1983.  This photo came from a minor league card, while he was at Oklahoma City.  I replaced the "truckers" cap that the Oklahoma City team wore with a nice new Cardinal cap.  Since the jersey logo was obscured I decided to not airbrush it out.

Tamargo's 5 year major league career was split evenly amongst 3 teams:  STL, SFG & MON.  During the '76 season he got into 10 games and hit and even .300 (3 for 10).  The following year, 1977, he appeared in just 4 game and went hitless in 4 at bats.  During the '78 season he was dealt to the Giants for a player to be named later (Rob Dressler).  This autographed player photo was taken during his brief stay in St. Louis during the 1976 season.  I love the bicentennial caps that the Cardinals wore that season on special occasions.  I believe the Mets, Phillies and of course the Pirates also donned these great keepsakes.

Urrea served the Cardinals well as a "swingman" pitching 29 games out of the pen and starting 12 others.  He posted a 7-6 record to go along with his 3.16 ERA in 139 innings worth of work.  Guys like him are valuable to teams, because of their flexibility.  The following season was not so good.  St. Louis used him in the same role, but with his ERA ballooning up to 5.38 the results were much different.  1979 was a year for him to work out the kinks back on the farm and 1980 looked to be a renaissance year (4-1, 3.48) for him.  After the '80 season he was dealt to the Padres, where he pitched 1 final season.  I used his 1979 Topps card photo for his updated card.  I cropped it a bit closer, so it has a tighter zoom.

"Obi-Wan's" first taste of the biggs was his 9 game cup of Joe with the Cardinals in 1977.  The then 21 year old second baseman hit .111 in 9 trips to the plate.  In '78 he would get an even bigger sip of Sanka, but still hit just .120.  The Cardinals must have liked what the saw, because he was given the regular second base job in 1979 and hit .301 in 135 games worth of action.  Never a big power guy, "Obi" managed to his .292 in 8 seasons at Busch before moving over to Atlanta.  He was a rock solid third basemen and hit .292 in the '82 World Series when the Cards defeated the Brewers in 7 games.  This photo is a signed action shot that I found on ebay.  Interestingly his signature looks like K.Oberfell, not Oberkfell.

Known as "Zamboni" because of the way he used to scoop up grounders off of the Busch Memorial Stadium carpet, Reitz served 2 tours of duty in St. Louis.  From 1972-1975, the year he won the gold glove at third base, Reitz was a star on the rise in St. Louis.  After the '75 season he was dealt to his hometown team, the San Francisco Giants for Pete Falcone.  A year later he was dealt back to the Cardinals in exchange for Lynn McGlothen.  1977 marked the start of his second go round in St. Louis.  In 157 games he would hit a career high 17 homers and bat .261, which would turn out to be one point higher than his career average.  For the next 4 seasons he would play gold glove caliber third base, but not get the award thanks to Mike Schmidt winning 9 consecutive gold gloves.  In total he would spend 8 season in a Cardinal uniform.  In 1974 he would hit a 2 out homer off of Jerry Koosman, at Shea to tie the game at 3-3.  The game would head to extra innings before Bake McBride would win it with a homer in the 25th inning.

After arriving at the trade deadline in exchange for Joel Youngblood Phillips served the role of utility infielder and wound up in 48 games.  His .241 average doesn't justify his worth as a utility guy who could play every infield position.  For the next 3 seasons he would serve that role to perfection for St. Louis, before being dealt to the Padres in a blockbuster 8 player deal.  I used his 1979 Topps card photo for this updated '77 card.

Porter spent just 14 games in the major, spread out across both the 1976 and 1977 seasons.  He would not record a major league hit in 24 career plate appearances.  In 5 games during the '77 season he would bat just 7 times.  He was a late season call up who played the corner outfield spots.  When guys spend as little time with the big club as Porter did, it's very tough to find a photo to use.  I found a grainy black and white photo while doing a google search and then went through a comprehensive colorization process.  Unlike the "head" shots, this full action pose required me to colorize the sky, the grass and his uniform.  Each piece had to be copied and pasted and colorized, then pasted back into the original photo.  When I finished the job I noticed that his cap looked exceptionally grainy, so I copied a cap from another Cardinal player's card and sized it accordingly, before placing it on top of his head.

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