Saturday, January 22, 2011

#430 - Luis Tiant

Card fact: It's been 48 cards since the last non-All-Star, yellow-red bordered card.

What I thought about this card then: Never saw it. No doubt, I would rank it among the best, if not the best, card in the set.

What I think about this card now: You just read it.

Other stuff: My first memories of major league baseball was watching the 1975 World Series on television, specifically Carlton Fisk's Game 6 home run. But I also remember a lot of talk about Luis Tiant at that time. My dad must have been the one doing the talking. I know Tiant amused him, and as a Red Sox fan, he was pretty pleased with how he performed for the Red Sox in the postseason that year.

Tiant's strange pitching wind-up, in which he turned toward second base, was the talk of baseball at that time. Roger Angell, my favorite baseball writer, gave the following titles to Tiant's wind-up, all intended to describe what he went through with his motion:

1. Call the osteopath
2. Out of the woodshed
3. The runaway taxi
4. Falling off the fence
5. The slipper-kick
6. The low-flying plane

So, that's who I think of when I think of the '75 World Series. Not Fisk. Not Carbo. Not Bench. I think of Tiant and his Game 1 and Game 4 victories, especially the 6-0, 5-hitter in the first game against the Reds. In fact, Tiant became such a big part of rooting for the Red Sox in the late '70s, that his history before the Red Sox still takes me by surprise.

Tiant was plucked off the garbage heap in 1971. After a phenomenal 1968 season for the Indians, he lost 20 games in 1969 and was traded to the Twins. In Minnesota, he broke his shoulder blade and was done for the year. The Twins released him. After a minor league fling with the Braves, the Red Sox acquired him, and he became a beloved figure in Boston.

I was crushed when he signed with the Yankees after the 1978 season. He enjoyed his last good season in 1979 and then finished things out with the Pirates and Angels in '81 and '82.

Tiant, one of the best-known Cuban-born ballplayers today, remains a popular figure at age 70. ESPN recently aired a documentary on him.

Back facts: Topps is stating the obvious with the write-up at the bottom. Twenty-two wins and 311 innings pitched pretty much says it all.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1934, Bill Bixby was born. Don't make him angry ...


Play at the Plate said...

I'm behind so it's time to get caught up.

That is a great card and this is the first time I've seen it. That's what I like about this blog and other's that highlight the older sets. When I first started collecting in '81, Tiant was one of those guys my dad talked about when I pulled his card.

Is that the first kitten on a card back?

Johngy said...

This card perfectly illustrates the beauty of older cards. What a great action shot! I don't need to see the fans in clear detail behind him. I like it the way it is.

Neal Ford said...

The Sox were one of my favourite AL Teams since I spent a good part of the summer in Massachusetts. Luis Tiant was one of the most charismatic players anywhere at the time. I loved his wind up, and the intensity on his face.