Wednesday, September 1, 2021

350 is a magic number - may the 4s be with you

a while back i noted that i was pondering the idea of adding a number type mini-collection to my collection. of the options i considered - 190, 272, 350, or none at all - i decided to go with 350 for the topps flagship set, starting with 1957. 

i am posting cards from the same year of each decade, and so far i've shown the 8s7s6s3s2s, and 1s. this post will be all about the 4s.

1964 topps #350
willie mccovey led the national league in home runs in 1963, more than doubling his previous career high in that category. it was his best season since his rookie of the year campaign in 1959. it is strange to me to see an "of" position designation for mccovey, but he played 133 games (about half of his career total) in the outfield in '63, so it is certainly warranted.

1974 topps #350 
bob gibson had his 1973 season cut short by injuries, but he did manage to pass jim bunning on the all-time strikeout list to move in to second place as the card back notes. he was primed to pass 3,000 strikeouts in 1974, which he did in july by striking out cesar geronimo of the reds. the stat doesn't show up on the back of his card, but gibson threw 12 complete games in 1973, including six in a row.

1984 topps #350
george foster was a superstar to me when i started following baseball. he hit 52 home runs in 1977, so the cards i collected the following year had that big number on the back (he was card #500!), as well as on a league leader card. foster also led the league in rbi that year, so he had three cards to collect in that set. by the time 1983 rolled around, foster was not the mvp player he had been in '77. he did drive in 90 runs for the mets, but was clearly in decline. however, like gibson, foster was on the cusp of a milestone, and on july 1, 1984, he hit career home run number 300. also, am i the only one who thinks it is weird that topps abbreviated foster's birth state as "ala" but his home state as just "o"?

1994 topps #350
jim abbott is a bit of an outlier at number 350, but he was a yankee so that must count for something. he did throw a no-hitter in 1993, which likely helped his case for the number (we've seen the same with larry dierker in 1977). i followed abbott's career while he was with the angels (i was there the night of his first career shutout) and was happy when they brought him back via trade in 1995.

2004 topps #350
kerry wood and mark prior certainly gave the cub fans hope in 2003. this card documents the team's nlds victory which marked their first postseason series win since the 1908 world series. however, they lost to the marlins in the nlcs by losing the last three games of the seven game series. prior and wood were the losing pitchers in games 6 and 7 for what it's worth.

2014 topps #350
carlos gonzalez won the national league batting title in 2010. the rockies must have more batting champs relative to their years of existence than any other team, right? i really like michael cuddyer as a twin, but holy cow never thought he would be a batting champ. anyway, gonzalez missed a chunk of the 2013 season as the card back says but still wound up on card number 350. 2014 turned out to be his worst year with the rockies, but he did have a nice bounce back season in 2015.

i am tracking a few things in an effort to find any consistency with number 350, although there really isn't any. still, i am keeping track of the following occurrences, now through two posts:

number of reigning rookies of the year: 1 (kris bryant)

number of reigning mvps: 2 (frank robinson, robin yount)

number of reigning cy young winners: 0

number of reigning world series champions: 2 (keith hernandez, joe carter)

number of reigning pennant winners: 7 (frank robinson, steve garvey, robin yount, jack clark, keith hernandez, joe carter, clayton kershaw)

number of reigning league leaders: 11 (ernie banks - home runs; mel stottlemyre - complete games; willie mccovey - home runs; billy williams - runs, hits; robin yount - hits, doubles; keith hernandez - walks; kenny lofton - sb; chase utley - runs; david ortiz - doubles, rbi; clayton kershaw - wins, era; dj lemahieu - batting average)

subset types: 2 (all-time all-stars, postseason highlights (3))

number of repeat players: 0

number of dodgers: 2 (steve garvey, clayton kershaw)

frequency of teams: cardinals (5), astros (4), mets (4), cubs (4), twins (3), yankees (3), dodgers (2), braves (2), a's (2), reds (2), brewers (2), giants (2), white sox, indians, phillies, red sox, blue jays, angels, rangers, orioles, rays, padres, rockies

i will have another post with another run of cards soon - stay tuned!


  1. It's a good group. Two H of F-ers, a former star, a fan favorite, and a current star.

  2. I think it would've been neat to see George Foster during those couple of really good years of his.

    1. i saw and heard too much of it on dodger broadcasts!

  3. The 4's are indeed strong here. I always got happy whenever I found a Foster in a pack of cards.