Continuing the Team Picture cards in this collection, we land on the Cubs. The Cubs of 1978 were a strange team. An 8 game winning streak in June propelled them into first place. They followed that streak with dropping 3 straight games and then winning 9 of their next 11 games to go into first base alone.
The Cubs were in first place alone on June 19 with the possibility of a Red Sox Cubs World Series out there.
After that day, only the Mets had a worse National League record as they went 44-57 and finished the year 79-83, 11 games in back of the Phillies.
The team led by Herman Franks was a mismatch of some future stars, former stars and world class mustaches.
Bill Buckner hit for a super high average, finishing the year with a .323 average. He never walked as his on base percentage was only 20 points higher than his batting average. He walked 18 times all year. Joey Votto walks 18 times a week now.
Dave Kingman slugged 28 homers and somehow only knocked in 79 runs all the while familiar named like Manny Trillo, Ivan DeJesus and Bobby Murcer had forgettable years.
Veterans like Woodie Fryman and Ken Holtzman played out the string this this Cubs squad while Rick Reuschel continued to be one of the most reliable innings eaters. His brother Paul was also on the team.
Donnie Moore, whose tragic life would end 11 years later was part of the bullpen. So were a pair of future Cy Young winning closers. Bruce Sutter, who would capture the award in 1979, picked up most of the saves. Willie Hernandez, who claimed the prize in 1984, picked up a few. FYI, Hernandez would also be the MVP of the 1984 American League. Sutter would never win the MVP but would get into Cooperstown. Both would clinch World Series as closers (Sutter with the 1982 Cardinals and Hernandez with the 1984 Tigers.)
But of course the main thing about this card is the wonderfully loopy way the Cubs would publish their team pictures, at least for Topps. They didn’t line everyone up but rather had their heads floating on a neutral background.
Think of what a pain in the ass this would have been in the days before Photoshop. Even WITH Photoshop, this would have been a nightmare to make.
You get a closer look at the faces than with a far away team pic, but with all the quality mustaches, I find myself thinking “Is THAT Buckner?… no THAT is Buckner!… Wait, hold on.”