Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Tour Through the 1979 Topps Set: Ten Cards from 201-300

Today we're continuing my irregular series on the 1979 Topps set.  This set contains the first cards I ever saw as a kid, and I recently bought a complete set.  I'm showing off about 10% of the whole thing, picking ten cards from each hundred to talk about.

Previously in this series:
  1. My Ill-Fated 1979 Topps Project, and My Acquisition of a 1979 Topps Set.
  2. A Tour Through the 1979 Topps Set: Ten Cards from 1-100.
  3. A Tour Through the 1979 Topps Set: Ten Cards from 101-200.
#203.  J.R. Richard Record Breaker.
J.R. Richard pitched in the majors for tens seasons, 1971 through 1980, all for the Astros.  He led the league in walks and in wild pitches several times, but also in strikeouts, and in 1979 he also won the NL ERA title at 2.71.  This 1979 Record Breaker card says that he set the NL record for strikeouts by a righthander with 303 in 1978; he followed that up with 313 strikeouts in 1979.  Just taking a quick look through all-time single-season strikeout leaders, it looks like the specificity of the record chosen was meant to exclude Nolan Ryan (whose best strikeout years then had been in the AL with the Angels) and left-hander Sandy Koufax.  I showed Richard's 1980 Topps card previously.
#205.  John Stearns Record Breaker.
Another record breaker that year was John Stearns, setting the record in the NL for most steals by a catcher, with 25.  It certainly true that you don't think of a catcher as a threat to steal.  John Wathan of the Royals was the most prolific base-stealing catcher post-1800s, recording 36 steals in 1982.
#208.  Clarence Gaston.
Clarence Gaston, better known in my time as Cito Gaston, played for the Braves, Padres, and Pirates from 1967 through 1978.  So, by the time this card was issued, Gaston's playing career was done.  He had his best year in 1970, making the All-Star team and batting .318.  His career average ended up as .256.  He went on to have great success as manager of the Blue Jays, though, leading them to back-to-back World Series wins in 1992 and 1993. 
#210.  Larry Bowa.
Larry Bowa was a key part of the success of the Phillies in the late 70s until he left the team when he was traded to the Cubs with Ryne Sandberg for Ivan DeJesus in January 1982.  (What an awful trade for the Phils!)  In his time in Philadelphia, Bowa was a five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner.  He was a decent enough hitter, but was really known for his strong defensive play and for being a fierce competitor.  By the time I was collecting seriously starting in 1987, he was a manager, leading the Padres in 1987-1988.  He went on to manage the Phillies 2001-2004, in the era just before the Phils went on to their second World Series ever.
#228.  Vic Davalillo.
I wrote previously about Vic Davalillo as part of the 1971 Pirates championship team and my efforts to put together a 1972 Topps Pirates team set.  He was with the Dodgers from 1977 through 1980 before retiring at age 43.  At the end, he was valuable as a pinch hitter and utility player, batting .312 in 77 at-bats in 75 games for the 1978 NL pennant-winning Dodgers. 
#250.  Willie Randolph.
Willie Randolph, who is so associated with the Yankees, was, perhaps a bit surprisingly, originally a Pirate.  That didn't last long, and he was traded after only playing 30 games with the Pirates in 1975.  He did well with the Yankees, being an integral part of their 1977 and 1978 World Series winners, and remaining for a decade after.  He played with the Dodgers, A's, Brewers, and Mets before retiring after the 1992 season, with 2210 career hits and 6 All-Star appearances.  Randolph went on to manage the Mets for a few years, and has worked frequently as a coach, including on the World Series-winning Yankees teams between 1996 and 2000.
#253.  Rick Wise.
The name Rick Wise is meaningful to me because of the trade that brought Steve Carlton to Philadelphia.  It seemed to be a fair trade at the time, but Carlton became a dominant pitcher of the 70s and early 80s afterwards.  Wise continued to pitch at the same level as before the trade, more or less, and the trade is viewed in hindsight as being one-side to the benefit of the Phillies.
#260.  Richie Zisk.
I posted before about my 1980 Topps Richie Zisk cards; somehow I've ended up with 3 of them, even though I don't actually have that many 1980 Topps cards (maybe I have about 20% of a complete set).  Zisk started out with the Pirates and did well, with 100 RBI and a .313 average in 1974, as the Pirates won the NL East.  He was traded to the White Sox in part for Goose Gossage, and in his only year in Chicago, had another good season, with 101 RBI and a .290 average.  He became a free agent and joined the Rangers after that, continuing to hit well before joining the Mariners for his final three seasons before retiring in 1983.  This is an All-Star card, as he made two career All-Star appearances, in 1977 with the White Sox and in 1978 with the Rangers.
#265.  Don Money.
Another AL All-Star was Don Money, who had 4 career All-Star appearances.  Money played with the Phillies at the start of his career, 1968-1972.  He moved from shortstop to third base when the Phils called up Larry Bowa, and he was traded to Milwaukee when a young Mike Schmidt started being the regular third baseman in Philadelphia.  He continued with the Brewers through the end of his career in 1983, and then briefly played in Japan.
#285.  Bobby Bonds.
I'm closing out this post with Bobby Bonds.  I'll mention that I only have a few cards of him, and am looking to get more.  Bonds was near the end of his career at this point, and he played for different clubs each year: Angels in 1977, White Sox and Rangers in 1978, Indians in 1979, Cardinals in 1980, and the Cubs in 1981.  But, he still had something to offer, and had 90 RBI in 1978 and 85 RBI in 1979.  He started playing less in 1980, and even less in 1981 before retiring.


  1. I've got a Bonds PC, so I may have dupes of a few. If I come across them, I'll send 'em over.