Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reviewing From Decades Past: 1970 - Position Players

This is quite a collection of All-Stars and Hall of Famers, yet they won nothing! In fact, there are a total of 37 All-Star appearances among the players featured today but only 3 post-season appearances.

One nice thing about the 1970 set is that there are plenty of newer photos. They are easy to spot because of the baseball centennial patch worn only in 1969. Banks, Kessinger, Santo, Hickman, and Williams all have recent pictures.

First Baseman Ernie Banks was the starter, but he was 39 years old and managed to play in only 72 games. Jim Hickman played the bulk of the time at first and had a career year. He had career highs in home runs (32), RBIs (115) and average (.315). He made the All-Star team for the only time in his career and was 8th in MVP voting.

Second Baseman Glenn Beckert was the NL's starting second baseman at the All-Star game. He hit .288 in 143 games.

Shortstop Don Kessinger also started in the All-Star game. He was the Cubs lead-off man and hit .266. He also won the Gold Glove.

Third Baseman Ron Santo had another solid season, hitting 26 HRs and driving in 114 runs, though his average dropped about 20 points to .267.

Catcher Randy Hundley was hurt in early April and played in only 73 games. A bunch of lousy backups (Jack Hiatt, JC Martin, Ken Rudolph, tried to replace him, but couldn't. Although Ron Santo was the team captain, Randy Hundley was the general on the field. His leadership was sorely missed.

Left Field Billy Williams had the best year of his career in 1970. He nearly won the triple crown, hitting 42 homers (2nd), 129 RBIs (2nd) and a .322 average (4th). He finished second to Johnny Bench for the MVP, and yet, was not an All-Star. Billy also did something in 1970 that he hadn't done since 1963; he took a day off. On September 3, he decided to end his National League record consecutive games played streak at 1117 games.

Center Field Cleo James (who??) played the most games in center, 83, but hit only .210. In late July the Cubs purchased Joe Pepitone from the Astros and Pepi was the center fielder the rest of the season. He hit 12 home runs and drove in 44 runs in only 56 games with the Cubs and was a real spark in the line up as the Cubs chased the Pirates for the division lead.

Right Field Johnny Callison was the Cubs big acquisition during the off-season. He was supposed to complete the outfield, with Hickman moving to center. But Callison's best years were behind him. This was a typical Cubs move, get a player just past his prime. Among the players the Cubs traded to get him was a very young Oscar Gamble, who in the long run would have been much better than Callison. The 31-year old Callison did manage to hit 19 homers.


  1. WW,

    I have about 200 of the 1970 cards (mostly from back in the day). After seeing this post, I decided to focus on completing this set. The pictures are nice, the scourge of the 1968-69 airbrushing is mostly gone, there's a lot of new players not found in the late-1960s cards, and these must be less expensive than cards from the mid-1960s.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Good luck Jim! I've always had a warm spot for the '70 set since it was the first one I really went after as a kid. I know a lot of people don't like the gray border, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to me, it's beautiful!