Pittsburgh Pirates 1978 Team Picture Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for December 29, 2017

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This picture gives me chills. It is everything I love about the Pirates of the 1970’s and it reminds me of a moment where my fandom was in its infancy.

I should have been a Pirates fan.

1978 was the first year I collected baseball cards. It was the first year I understood there were baseball teams and cities that had baseball teams.

I was a Red Sox fan. I called myself one for as long as I could remember. Before we moved to Massachusetts, I was called a Red Sox fan. We lived closer to New York when I had my first memories of being a baseball fan. Why wasn’t I a Yankees fan? Or a Mets fan?

When we moved to Massachusetts when I was 4, I had my Red Sox hat and watched the local games. Yet something always drew me to the Pittsburgh Pirates. They had cool funky hats, bright yellow and striped uniforms mixed with the black to make them look like Bees.

They played in those multipurpose round stadiums that I thought were so much cooler than dumpy Fenway Park (Remember, I was a kid.)

1978, a 6 year old version of your pal Sully was collecting baseball cards and kept seeing the Pirates, a more integrated team than the Red Sox with cooler looking players. Rennie Stennett, Willie Stargell, Al Oliver, Dave Parker et al were included in this team pic.

Rich Gossage was as well, but his 1978 card was airbrushed to have him in a Yankees uniform. The team pic had them in their yellow unis in Three Rivers Stadium with the classic 1970’s logo behind them.

In 1979, the Pirates would be in the World Series, the first World Series I watched every game of. I was drawn to that Pittsburgh team and have rooted for them whenever they made it to the post season (especially during the Barry Bonds years where you would have assumed I grew up in Pittsburgh.)

The history of the Pirates from Honus Wagner to Pie Traynor to Roberto Clemente to Dock Ellis to Willie Stargell to Barry Bonds has always fascinated me. And a lot can be traced back to those early days, seeing the Pirates from this series of Topps cards.

All things being equal, I would have been a Pirates fan.

Dave Parker 1980 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for February 3, 2017

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On the podcast, which if you are reading this I am guessing you subscribe to the podcast, I often refer to “The Rule of Seven.” This refers to my theory that people don’t really start following a sports team in any significant way until they turn 7 years old.

Some do it sooner, other later but 7 is a pretty good average for it.

I turned 7 in 1979 and the first World Series I remembered watching was that year’s memorable and Disco themed “We Are Family” match up between the Baltimore Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Willie Stargell was the emotional leader of the team (and backed up the emotion with a strong bat.) But Dave Parker was the great all around hitter on the squad.

Parker was in many ways the heir to Roberto Clemente. His career did not start exactly after the great Clemente perished over the Gulf of Mexico after the 1972 season. But by 1974, Parker was in right field and the Pirates were a playoff team.

The MVP of 1978, Parker was a batting champ who hit for power and had a cannon for an arm in right field. And after 1979, he was a World Series champ who had a cooler than cool aura about him.

If Pops Stargell was the fatherly steady figure in the clubhouse, Parker was the bad ass trouble maker.

By the early 1980’s he looked like a potential Hall of Famer. When the Cincinnati native became a major figure in the Pittsburgh cocaine trials, his reputation took a dip. (Cocaine seems so quaint now, doesn’t it?)

He continued putting up All Star numbers after being dealt to the Reds. He picked up another World Series ring as a member of the 1989 Oakland A’s, often batting in between Canseco and McGwire (two players who substance abuse was not looked at as Parker’s cocaine reputation hung over him.)

After another All Star appearance with the 1990 Milwaukee Brewers, he finished his career bouncing between the Angels and the Blue Jays in 1991.

Parker’s 19 year career featured five Top 5 MVP finishes, including the 1978 title, multiple Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers and was named to the All Star Game in 3 different decades.

Had he picked up 288 more hits over those 19 years, he would have cleared 3,000 and would be a Hall of Famer. Instead he lingered on the ballot for 15 seasons, peaking at 24.5%. Clearly the 10-15% who voted for him over a decade and a half had a similarly positive impression as I had as a kid.

A curious thing about this Topps card. On the back, they featured a cartoon as many of them did.

Take a look at it and see if you can detect the problem.

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Topps Cards had their players be racial neutral. But that means the default is to portray everyone as a dorky white guy, which Dave Parker certainly was not.

So he did not make it to the Hall of Fame and perhaps the Sabermetrics crowd would not embrace him the way I did.

But let’s see anyone else in the Hall of Fame pull off this shirt that Parker wore.

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Sully Baseball Podcast Rewind -November 19, 2012

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Sports Illustrated


On November 19, 2012, I revealed why I have such a soft spot in his heart for the Pittsburgh Pirates and won’t be distracted by my wife and son.

Enjoy this Podcast Rewind

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast November 19, 2012