| TOPPS SHOEBOX LEGENDS |
One of the cornerstone themes of the Topps Shoebox Legends binders is the all-decade team pages. It paints a snapshot of the organization over the course of that particular decade. The 1960s Pittsburgh Pirates was one of the easier teams to assemble outside of maybe who the starting pitcher would be. If you feel it should be Bob Friend, I would love to hear from you. One of the great things with these pages is they’re not locked down. I wasn’t alive during the 60s to witness baseball of this era, so I welcome input from others who know the decade better than me. Drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter!
Since the current Pirates are actually playing well, thanks to the youth movement, I felt it would be a good time to roll out the Pirates all-decade team of the 1960s. One thing you notice right away on these Bucs cards is the cool, vest-style uniforms they wore. It’s such a classic vintage look and I always felt these were some of the sharpest looking unis of all time. I do have a question, as I seem to only see this on Pirates cards of the 1960s; why did they use a patch at times on the cap (see Clemente) instead of the normal stitched-on logo?
The outfield is made up of two Hall of Famers anchoring the corner spots in Stargell and Clemente. For centerfield, I chose Matty Alou over Bill Virdon based on his offense output compared to Virdon’s. Alou really came into his own after being traded out of San Francisco as he hit .342, .338, .332, .331. (1966-69). Around the horn, I chose Hoak at third, Alley and, HOFer Mazeroski manning up the middle with Clendenon covering first. Burgess is the backstop with Veale his battery mate. Again, I could have gone Bob Friend in place of Veale, and maybe Bob Bailey over Hoak at the hot corner. Again, would love to hear arguments for either spot or others as this is a fluid page.
Unfortunately, their play didn’t match their sharp-dressed ways. Outside of their 1960 World Series win, Pittsburgh pretty much sat right in the middle of the 10-team, National League during the decade. Their best effort was their third-place finish in ’66 when they fell short three games to the Dodgers and Giants. Outside of Veale and Friend, they just didn’t have the starting pitching to make a run every year. Near the close of the decade, the Pirates were starting to bolster their staff with home-grown talent in Blass, Ellis, and Moose. They would help propel the team to the top of the NL at the beginning of the 1970s.
| Between the Foul Poles | In 1979 Willie Stargell became the first and currently only player to win the NL MVP, the NL Championship Series MVP, and the World Series MVP Awards in one season … Matty Alou and his two brothers (Felipe, Jesus) made history on September 10, 1963, when they played together for the San Francisco Giants and they all batted in the eighth-inning against the New York Mets … Bob Clemente won a Gold Glove award every year from 1961 until his final season in 1972. He shares the record for most Gold Glove awards by outfielders (12) with Willie Mays … Gene Alley won back-to-back Gold Gloves (67,68) … Bob Veale led the NL in strikeouts AND walks in 1964 … Bill Mazeroski led all NL second basemen in assists nine times, double plays eight times, putouts five times, and fielding percentage three times … Don Hoak was married to singer and actress Jill Corey … Smoky Burgess is a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame … Donn Clendenon hit three home runs for the Miracle Mets in the 1969 World Series, earning him Series MVP honors.
| DINGED CORNERS |
Favorite card: 1962 Topps Smoky Burgess
Favorite card design: 1965 Topps
Least favorite card design: 1969 Topps
Hall of Famer(s): Willie Stargell, Bob Clemente, Bill Mazeroski
Red Sox or ex-Red Sox: Bob Veale (1972-74)
Longest career: Stargell, 21 years
Shortest career: Don Hoak, Gene Alley, 11 years
Most teams played for: 5, Burgess, Hoak
Best nickname: Willie “Pops” Stargell