Fred Lynn seemingly never lacked for confidence.
By 1975, he’d been a three-time collegiate World Series player at the University of Southern California, the best player on tournament teams in Japan and the 1971 Pan-American Games, and had shined during a September 1974 call-up.
“The handwriting was kind of on the wall,” Lynn said in a recent phone interview from his Southern California home.
There have been many controversial MVP Award winners over the years, but one defies justification from this distance of 75 years: New York Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon won the award in 1942 even though Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox won the Triple Crown. How did it happen?
When I first starting collecting baseball cards back in the 1970s, Topps had a virtual monopoly on the industry. There were a few other companies putting out their own cardboard collectibles, but they made up a microscopic portion of the market. Hostess, for example, occasionally printed a trio of “panel” cards on the bottoms of Twinkies boxes. Even Toys-R-Us and K-Mart tried to get in on the action.
If someone wrote a screenplay about the 1989 Baltimore Orioles, it might seem contrived even by Hollywood standards.
After Sandy Koufax won the Cy Young Award in 1966, the Baseball Writers Association of America had seen enough. For the third time in four seasons, Koufax had won—unanimously. Plenty of other fine pitchers never sniffed a vote (like Juan Marichal, 25–6 in 1966). So the BBWAA did something about it.
For teams fighting for a pennant, the final weekend of the season is packed with tension and excitement. For those far out of contention, it is the end of a long grind and the anticipation of going home after an arduous, disappointing season.
On July 25, 1971, Vida Blue was on top of baseball.
Three days shy of his 22nd birthday, the Oakland Athletics’ ace had electrified the Majors by going 18–3 with a 1.41 ERA to this point in the season. He would win that day, on the road against the Detroit Tigers, dropping his ERA to 1.37 and giving him a chance to become just the second pitcher since 1935 to win at least 30 games in a season.
How sad that it took Cy Young’s death at age 88 to nudge the powers that be into honoring him. Soon after Young’s death late in 1955 came an announcement that the Cy Young Memorial Trophy would be awarded to the best pitcher in the Major Leagues in 1956. The initial balloting proved decisive: Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers received 10 of the 16 votes.
Allegedly, Union officer Abner Doubleday pulled the cannon lanyard, the first shot in defense of Fort Sumter, which started the Civil War. Not that it isn’t noteworthy, but in reality, that’s his only first anything. His anointment as “The Father of Baseball”—still given in some isolated quarters—is fantasy, not even close to being in the ballpark.