Fergie Jenkins was the 1971 NL Cy Young Award winner for the Chicago Cubs, and nearly won the 1974 AL Cy Young with the Rangers. He received ten first-place votes for the award, while Catfish Hunter took twelve first-place votes. “Fly” was the first Canadian-born baseball player inducted into the Hall of Fame, gaining entry in his third year on the ballot in 1991.
I’m a baseball card junkie, I’ll admit it. But I don’t like the shiny, nor do I go nuts over the latest certified autographs or “can’t miss” prospects. I’m all about the cheap stuff featuring players I like and guys from the Reds. If I can buy it for under a buck, I might be interested.
Last week in Myrtle Beach, I stopped at a card shop called Baseball 17. As soon as I walked in, I knew I would be spending a bit of time there. It was just like the baseball card shops I grew up with…boxes upon boxes of cheap cards, 25 cents each or five for a dollar. Other boxes boasted, “Stars 50 cents!” I immediately dove in to a box, and started pulling Reds.
I’m not talking about 2013 Topps or 2014 Heritage. I’m talking old-school…1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s. Five for a dollar! Barry Larkin, Ken Hunt, Don Blasingame, Leon Wagner. Here’s a sample of just a few of the Reds I picked out…
I also spied a 1989 Broders Rookies Ken Griffey card. I have a couple of the 1988 sets, but had never seen a 1989 series before…
You just can’t beat that, can you?
Actually, yes you can. This card, featuring three Hall of Famers, set me back twenty cents…
I also visited the “Stars for 50 cents!” box, and pulled a couple more Gibsons…1969 and 1975.
I remember the 1975 Gibson card from my grandmother’s house. She had a nice stack of 1975 cards, not sure who they belonged to but I was never allowed to ask if I could keep them. I recall looking at those cards, and I remember seeing the Gibson in that stack. I probably had no idea who he was at the time, but I always liked the card anyway.
The 1969 card has an amusing cartoon on the back, highlighting one of Gibby’s many extraordinary feats from the 1968 season…
I had a great time in Myrtle Beach, and Baseball 17 made it even better. I only dropped about $10 there in two visits, but it was great reliving the memories of the card shops of my youth. I can’t wait to go back next year and see what else I can find in the bargain bins.
This is an interesting one. Three guys are honored…one of them (Maddux) twice. Three teams are represented…one of them (the Cubs) twice (for Maddux and Jenkins). Interesting to me, at least.
Greg Maddux, Chicago Cubs
Greg Maddux, Atlanta Braves
If the Cy Young Award is ever renamed for another pitcher, Maddux has to be in the discussion. The 4-time winner of the trophy finished in the top 5 four other times and is 8th on the career wins list with 355 victories. Maddux will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2014, along with former teammate Tom Glavine.
Dave Winfield, San Diego Padres
Fergie Jenkins, Chicago Cubs
Hall of Fame elections are tricky. In the past, if a player had reached certain milestones, or “magic numbers,” he was assured a spot in Cooperstown. With the recent revelation of steroids in the game and the tainting of our precious statistics, those “magic numbers” are now marred with allegations and accusations. Players like Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, and Rafael Palmeiro are no longer guaranteed admittance into the sacred company.
But I got to thinking, how magic are those magic numbers? For hitters, the magic numbers are 3000 hits and 500 home runs. For pitchers, 3000 strikeouts and 300 wins. How easy is it for a player to get in with those numbers? Let’s take a look, starting with pitchers…
- Cy Young (511 wins) – Selected to HOF in 1937 by BBWAA (2nd year receiving votes)
- Walter Johnson (417) – Selected to HOF in 1936 by BBWAA (1st)
- Pete Alexander (373) – Selected to HOF in 1938 by BBWAA (3rd)
- Christy Mathewson (373) – Selected to HOF in 1936 by BBWAA (1st)
- Pud Galvin (365) – Selected to HOF in 1965 by Veteran’s Committee
- Warren Spahn (363) – Selected to HOF in 1973 by BBWAA (1st year on ballot under current rules)
- Kid Nichols (361) – Selected to HOF in 1949 by Old Timers Committee (4 years on BBWAA ballot, never received more than 2.6%)
- Greg Maddux (355) – Not yet eligible
- Roger Clemens (354) – Not yet eligible, plus the steroids taint
- Tim Keefe (342) – Selected to HOF in 1964 by Veteran’s Committee
- Steve Carlton (329) – Selected to HOF in 1994 by BBWAA (1st)
- John Clarkson (328) – Selected to HOF in 1963 by Veteran’s Committee
- Eddie Plank (326) – Selected to HOF in 1946 by Old Timers Committee (spent 5 years on BBWAA ballot, high support was 27%)
- Nolan Ryan (324) – Selected to HOF in 1999 by BBWAA (1st)
- Don Sutton (324) – Selected to HOF in 1998 by BBWAA (5th)
- Phil Niekro (318) – Selected to HOF in 1997 by BBWAA (5th)
- Gaylord Perry (314) – Selected to HOF in 1991 by BBWAA (3rd)
- Tom Seaver (311) – Selected to HOF in 1992 by BBWAA (1st)
- Old Hoss Radbourn (309) – Selected to HOF in 1939 by Old Timers Committee
- Mickey Welch (307) – Selected to HOF in 1973 by Veteran’s Committee
- Tom Glavine (305) – Not yet eligible
- Randy Johnson (303) – Not yet eligible
- Lefty Grove (300) – Selected to HOF in 1947 by BBWAA (3rd)
- Early Wynn (300) – Selected to HOF in 1972 by BBWAA (4th)
Twenty-four pitchers in the history of baseball have won 300 ballgames. Seven of those guys were inducted by the Veterean’s Committee or the Old Timers Committee, while another four are not yet eligible. The top four were in the very early days of the Hall of Fame, and there was a tremendous backlog of players on the ballot at that time. It’s amazing that Cy Young did not get enough support that first year, despite being the only pitcher in history with more than 500 victories, but at the same time we’re not going to hold it against the voters because they did get it right eventually.
If we eliminate those fifteen names, we have nine guys to look at, mostly in the modern era, with 300 wins: Spahn, Carlton, Ryan, Sutton, Niekro, Perry, Seaver, Grove, and Wynn. Spahn, Carlton, Ryan, and Seaver were first ballot guys (we’re ignoring the vote cast for Spahn while he was still active in 1958, which would not be allowed under current rules). Why were the others forced to wait three, four, even five years, despite 300 wins?
Personally, I look at the career of a player rather than the peak. Sutton, Niekro, and Perry reached the 300-win plateau as well as 3000 strikeouts. Shouldn’t that end the conversation? Alright, I understand the hesitation on Perry…
But for Sutton and Niekro, there should have been no debate. Sutton only had one 20-win season; Niekro had three. Sutton had a nice 5-year peak in the 1970s with several top-five finishes in Cy Young voting and All-Star appearances. Niekro spread out his success more, with Cy Young support and All-Star honors in three decades. In the end, I suppose both were seen more as compilers than dominant forces, but credit has to be given for longevity, doesn’t it?
Despite 300 wins and 3000 strikeouts, both were forced by the BBWAA to wait five years before enshrinement.
Now look at a few other players that reached 3000 strikeouts in their career, but did not reach the 300-win mark.
- Bert Blyleven(3701 strikeouts) – Selected to HOF in 2011 by BBWAA (14th year receiving votes)
- Fergie Jenkins(3192) – Selected to HOF in 1991 by BBWAA (3rd)
- Bob Gibson (3117) – Selected to HOF in 1981 by BBWAA (1st)
We all know the struggles Blyleven faced. Just one 20-win season, two All-Star games, three top-ten finishes in Cy Young voting. Like Sutton and Niekro, he was seen as a compiler, and he fell just short of 300 victories. Jenkins battled the stigma of a cocaine-related arrest which may have forced him to wait a few years for induction.
So back to the original question, how magical are the milestones of 300 wins and 3000 strikeouts? No eligible pitcher has been denied induction, but neither are the marks automatic first-ballot guarantees.
I found an extra PayPal account that I had opened a few years ago, and there was money inside! So I decided to buy a few things on eBay. Here are the goods…
The first lot contained the much sought-after Ron Paul card, as well as a Topps TCH card of Don Mattingly and several Barry Larkin cards (including five Donruss rookie cards).
The second lot featured the Big Klu, and Hall of Famers Seaver, Carew, and Jenkins. Dirt cheap, and no shipping charges…you can’t beat that!
I also received my first batch of cards from a trade made on The Bench, so I’m that much closer to actually completing Topps 2008 Series 1. I think I have 3 more trades pending. I can’t wait to get that binder full!
This was a good week for the mailbox. A few days ago I received a pack of soccer cards from the Bad Wax Forums for being one of the first 10 people to post five times on the board. I actually didn’t even know about the contest until after I started posting. It’s a great place to talk about baseball (and other sports) cards, sets you are working on, trades, great pulls, etc. There is also a forum for the Fun Cards set which is in progress. If you are a collector, come on over and start discussing your collection with others.
Today, I opened my mail to find some O-Pee-Chee and other cards from the 88 Topps blog. Andrew is giving away cards left and right, and he even threw in a couple bonus cards in my prize. I got the Delino DeShields draft card (which was not in the regular Topps set), John Franco, Dave Parker (Cobra for the HOF!), Tracy Jones (who now has a talk show on 700 WLW in Cincinnati), Shawon Dunston (one of my all-time favorites), and Tom Henke. He also threw in a couple of Topps’ “Fan Favorites” cards, Fergie Jenkins and Ken Griffey Sr. A great surprise, and much appreciated.