All-Decade Kansas City Royals

| TOPPS SHOEBOX LEGENDS |
The 1970s

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 1970s Kansas City Royals all-decade team is stocked with guys who turned the expansion team into one of the most formidable teams of the latter part of the decade.

The outfield is made up of Piniella, Amos, and Cowens. Around the infield, you have HOFer George Brett at third, Patek and White manning up the middle with Mayberry covering first. Porter is the backstop with Splittorff his battery mate. I could have gone Dennis Leonard, or Steve Busby and his two no-hitters here in place of Paul Splittorff, but felt Paul had enough strong seasons and had been with the club the entire span of the 1970s. If you feel it should be Leonard, definitely let me hear about it. As I have said, these pages are fluid so if Leonard makes more sense, that’s an easy fix!

Maybe the only other spot I was 50/50 on, would have been second base and slotting in Cookie Rojas there. Cookie was a four-time All-Star from 71-75 but felt Frank White made a bigger impact on the club with his defense and speed.

This was definitely one of the franchises of the decade. After coming into the American League in 1969, they wasted no time in being competitive with a second-place finish in the AL West in ’71. If not having to deal with the Yankees, and losing three straight ALCS (1976-1978), I feel they could have easily grabbed a World Series or two in that run. They had the pitching, speed, and defense to match up with both the Big Red Machine and the Los Angeles Dodgers over in the National League.

| Between the Foul Poles | Lou Piniella was a three-time Manager of the Year Award winner … Amos Otis was originally drafted by the Red Sox in the 5th-round of the 1965 amateur draft … Al Cowens won a Gold Glove and finished second to Rod Carew for the AL MVP in ’77 … Freddie Patek was a two-time All-Star and wreaked havoc on the base paths during the decade. He led the AL with 53 in ’77 … Paul Slittorff become the first Royals pitcher to win 20 games (1973), he’s also the Royals’ all-time victories leader … Frank White holds the franchise record for eight Glove Gloves, he also hit for the cycle twice (1979, 1982) … George Brett is the only player to win batting titles in three decades; 1976 (.333), 1980 (.390), and 1990 (.329) … Darrell Porter was a four-time All-Star and won both the 1982 NLCS and World Series MVP Awards with the Cardinals … John Mayberry led the American League in walks in 1973 (122) and 1975 (119) … Six of the above players are in the Royals Hall of Fame: Otis, Patek, Splitorff, White, Brett, and Mayberry.


| DINGED CORNERS |
Favorite card: 1977 Topps George Brett
Favorite card design: 1976 Topps
Least favorite card design: 1977 Topps
Hall of Famer(s): George Brett
Red Sox or ex-Red Sox: None, but see above … Frank White was a coach (1994-96)
Longest career: Brett, 21 years
Shortest career: Al Cowens, 13 years
Most teams played for: 4, multiple players
Best nickname: Fred “The Cricket” Patek


All-Decade Pittsburgh Pirates

| TOPPS SHOEBOX LEGENDS |
The 1960s

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


All-Decade Houston Astros

| TOPPS SHOEBOX LEGENDS |
The 1970s

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 1970s Houston Astros was one of the easier teams to assemble.

The outfield is made up of Cruz, Cedeno, and Wynn. Around the infield, you have Rader at third, Metzger and Morgan manning up the middle with Watson covering first. Edwards is the backstop with Richard his battery mate. I could have gone Don Wilson in place of J.R., but felt Richard was such a force from 1976-79. Somehow he only managed one All-Star selection (1980).

You look at this team and wonder how come they weren’t better than a .493 (793-817) team for the decade. Sure Morgan was traded in ’72 and Wynn at the end of ’73, but the core plus the likes of Enos Cabel, Terry Puhl, and Art Howe still would have made for a formidable foe. The pitching staff in the mid to later part of the decade had Richard, Joe Niekro, Joaquin Andujar, and Ken Forsch. The ‘Stros finished fourth out of six National League West teams four times, third three times, and almost won the division in 1979 finishing second, a game and half behind the Cincinnati Reds. And here lies part of the reason for hovering around .500 ball for the decade. You were in the same division as the Big Red Machine and the Los Angeles Dodgers who were exceptionally strong too.

| Between the Foul Poles | In 1971 the Astros play a National League record 75 one-run games, losing 43 of them … Jose Cruz had two brothers in the bigs at the same time he was (Hector, Tommy) joining the Alou brothers to accomplish the same feat … Ceasar Cedeno was a superstar in the making until some off-field issues side-tracked his career. He had already made four All-Star teams and five straight Gold Gloves in his first seven seasons … Jim Wynn on a 162-game average, would score nearly 100 runs, walk 100 plus times, hit 25 home runs, drive in 80, and steal 19 bases … 1979 the Astros had four National League Pitchers of the Month; Ken Forsch (April), Joe Niekro (May), Joaquin Andujar (June), and J.R. Richard (September).


| DINGED CORNERS |
Favorite card: 1976 Topps J.R. Richard … look at that jacket!
Favorite card design: 1976 Topps
Least favorite card design: 1970 Topps
Hall of Famer(s): Joe Morgan
Red Sox or ex-Red Sox: Bob Watson (1979)
Longest career: Joe Morgan, 22 years
Shortest career: J.R. Richard, 10 years
Most teams played for: 5, both Joe Morgan and Jim Wynn
Best nickname: Jim “Toy Cannon” Wynn