Friday, September 2, 2011
#639 - Steve Kline
Card fact: This is the final card of Steve Kline issued by Topps during his playing career.
What I thought about this card then: Didn't see it.
What I think about this card now: He's not really wearing an Indians cap. He's actually a Yankee in disguise.
Other stuff: I'm just speculating here, but it must be deflating to become a major league pitcher, establish yourself for a few years, and then later have another major leaguer come along at your same position with your same name, who enjoys a better, longer career and is a good quote, too.
That's what happened to Kline, whose career lasted from 1970-74 and then 16 more games in 1977. The second Steve Kline was a flaky, left-handed reliever known for his durability with the Expos and Cardinals, who pitched 11 seasons from 1997-2007. They're not related.
The elder Kline pitched for the Yankees from 1970-74. His best season was 1972 when he went 16-9 with a 2.40 ERA. He was dealt to the Indians in the big trade that sent Chris Chambliss and Dick Tidrow to the Yankees in April of '74 (which explains the airbrushed cap).
Kline developed arm problems that cost him the 1975 and 1976 seasons. He came back for 16 games with the Braves in '77.
(EDIT: Steve Kline died on June 4, 2018).
Back facts: Barry Bonds eclipsed Babe Ruth's season walk record three times -- in 2001 (177), 2002 (198) and 2004 (232).
Other blog stuff: Four of the last five red-orange bordered cards (the Burger King color combo) have featured players with airbrushed caps.