1977 Batting Leaders and 1978 Batting Leaders, 1978 and 1978 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for November 5, 2017


There is a reason I am putting these cards together. 1978 was the first year I collected baseball cards. It was the first year I learned about all of the teams and I began to learn about all the players.

1979 was the first season I really followed baseball day to day, understanding stats and which players were good or not.

A few things seemed set in stone. The Yankees, Royals, Dodgers and Phillies were the only teams allowed to participate in the post season.

And the “Batting Leaders” were always going to be Rod Carew and Dave Parker.

The names underneath them may change, but Carew and Parker were the Batting Kings for life. That’s what it seemed like to me. Hell, they were on the cards for the first 2 years I collected cards.

Granted, I had not yet learned the concept of small sample sizes. But in the late 1970’s there were both super reliable hitters and each won an MVP in one of the seasons represented in these cards.

They looked so serious in the first card and so happy in the second. Maybe that is the faces of men relaxing when they know they are the best.

Carew won 7 batting titles between 1969 and 1978. Modern stat lovers would be pleased to know that he also led the league in on base percentage four times. In 1977 he batted .388 and led the AL with an OPS of 1.019 despite hitting fewer than 20 homers.

His MVP campaign was in 1977 and the Sabermetric crowd today would have a hard time arguing against it. Along with being the batting champ, leading the league in hits and triples and driving in over 100 runs, he led the AL in WAR, Offensive WAR, OPS+, Runs Created, Adjusted Batting Runs, Adjusted Batting Wins, Times on Base, Offensive Win Percentage, Base-Out Runs Added, Win Probability Added, Situational Wins Added and Base Out Wins Added.

I have no clue what a lot of those stats mean. But the fact that he led the league in all of them should amount to something.

Carew would go on to the Angels in 1979. He wouldn’t win another batting title and would often battle injuries in Anaheim. But he did pass 3,000 hits continued to be a .300 hitter and would make it to the Hall of Fame.

Parker was one of the coolest players in the game, wearing the Pirates uniforms like a badass. A great power hitter with a cannon for an arm, Parker had a peak where he was in the conversation for baseball’s best player.

He had to essentially take over for Roberto Clemente in right field after the great star’s death after the 1972 season. Parker emerged in 1973 and by 1975, led the NL with a .541 slugging.

In 1977, he won the first of his back to back batting titles. He smacked 215 hits, 44 of them were doubles, as he led the league in both categories.

In 1978, his .334 average was the standard for the NL. He also had the highest slugging and OPS and total bases in the league en route to his MVP.

As with Carew, Parker’s MVP would survive the Sabermetric gauntlet. He had the top WAR and Offensive WAR as well as leading the league in Adjusted OPS+, Adjusted Batting Runs, Adjusted Batting Wins, Offensive Win Percentage, Win Probability Added, Base Out Runs Added, Situational Wins Added and Base Out Wins Added.

Imagine if they had Topps Cards for each of those categories. Carew and Parker would be on THOSE two, confirming my thoughts that they were the best in the business.

Parker had several more elite seasons with the Pirates and Reds and picked up World Series rings with the 1979 Pirates and 1989 A’s.

He didn’t make the Hall of Fame, his career stats falling short, as he stayed on the ballot for 15 years.

Sure if was a small sample size, but in 1978 and 1979, it was all the research I had.

Rod Carew and Dave Parker were the best hitters in baseball. And I had the cards to prove it.

Rod Carew 1980 Kellogg’s 3-D Super Stars – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for March 30, 2017


Angels are characters associated with religion, even though the cherubic angels we associate with the term are not actually found in the Bible. This post is about the Angel known as Rod Carew, whose name was introduced in a theological discussion.

I am not a religious man but I am fascinated by the topic. Perhaps my non belief and my skepticism makes me curious to why people believe.

When I was a student at New York University in the 1990’s, I took a class called “Judaism, Christianity and Islam.” In that course, I learned about how the three Abrahamic faiths were intertwined and yet separate.

The teacher was named Francis Edward Peters, or F. E. Peters as he is published. HeĀ is the Professor Emeritus of History at NYU and without a doubt one of the most fascinating teachers I ever had.

In his lectures, he would carefully and logically lay out the connections between the faiths. There were Muslim, Jews and Christians in the class, as well as people like me fulfilling their electives. Many of the Muslims and Jews would argue while the Christians would sit silently and lapsed Catholics like myself would shake our heads.

Every once in a while, Professor Peters would throw in a sports reference. It was 1992 when I took his class, so when he thought of an example of a modern miracle that would confirm God, he mentioned “if the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, that would suffice.”

He would get his divine confirmation 2 years later.

At one point, Professor Peters was trying to explain the difference between a Muslim and a Christian saint.

He explained that a Muslim saint was picked as a consensus great person. There was no voting process. Everyone simply agreed on their greatness. “Babe Ruth would be a Muslim Saint” he said.

Christian saints can be voted upon and debated. “Rod Carew would be a Christian saint.”

The orthodox Jews and devout Muslims and Born Again Christians started flipping through their books, trying to figure out which branch of the Abrahamic tree did Rod Carew reside.

I actually laughed out loud, loving the analogy and seeing how few got it.

Rodney Cline Carew was a great hitter and someone whose consistency got him into the Hall of Fame.

Born in Panama, Carew’s family moved to New York and was discovered by a scout playing semi pro ball in the Bronx. He signed with Minnesota and served in the Marine Corps reserve as an engineer. He shot up through the Twins farm system and was named Rookie of the Year in 1967. He made the All Star team that year. He also did in 1968.

Rod Carew was an All Star every single season between 1967 and 1984. Seven times he was the AL Batting Champion, including 6 out of 7 seasons.

In 1977, he led the AL in runs, hits, triples, batting average, on base percentage, OPS and OPS plus. The 31 year old Carew took home the MVP that season, batting .388 along the way.

But also objected to the racist owner of the Twins and informed the team that he would test free agency when he got the chance. After having the highest average and on base percentage again in 1978, he was shipped off to California where he became an Angel.

He continued to hit for a sky high average, but even the switch from second to first couldn’t prevent age and injuries cutting down his plate appearances. He helped the Angels to the 1979 and 1982 ALCS but he never did play in the World Series. (He fell short with the Twins in the 1969 and 1970 ALCS as well.)

After collecting hit 3,000, Carew was a free agent after the 1985 season. He got no offers, a victim of collusion and his career was over. He did indeed make it to the Hall of Fame (baseball sainthood) and has his number retired in both Minnesota and with the Angels.

Carew’s own religion was confusing for a while. His first wife was Jewish and Carew wore a Chai necklace, making some think he converted. He never did, but was showing respect to his wife’s faith.

He is a devout Christian and lives with his new wife, recently recovering from a heart transplant.

An Angel on the field, he is an all time great hitter and one who deserves the baseball canonization in Cooperstown. I hope Professor Peter continued using that analogy. It was apt.