Saturday, February 15, 2014

1965 Topps NL Leading Firemen: Woodeshick, McBean, Baldschun

This leader card is a virtual "Who's Who" of "Who the hell is that?".  Don't get me wrong, these guys have a total of 30 years and 1293 Major League games between them, but Woodshick, McBean, and Baldschun are not really household names.

I debated about whether to just call this card a "Saves Leader" card or "Leading Firemen". In 1963 the Sporting News Fireman of the Year award went to the pitcher with the most saves. Period. Despite the fact that the runner up in both leagues had significantly more wins and better win-loss records overall. In 1964, however, The Sporting News awarded Al McBean "Fireman of the Year". Presumably because he had a better win loss record of 8-3 to Woodeshick's 2-9. But Woodeshick had more saves with 23 to McBean's 22.

I've said before that the save was not an official stat until 1969 but The Sporting News used it as a stat and awarded relievers since 1960. But now I can truly understand why Topps didn't make a "Leading Firemen" card until 1973. The award and even the record keeping was inconsistent if not totally whacked out. How else can you explain that McBean got 22 saves in just 21 "Save Opportunities". Don't believe me?  Look it up.

In the end I decide to stick with the Leading Firemen moniker and have Woodshick at the top because he had the most saves. Plus I wanted a bigger picture of that sweet Colt .45s uni. With 1964 being the last year before they changed their names to the Astros, I knew I wouldn't have another opportunity.

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