this post covers the 1968 saint louis cardinals and cards number 34 to 38 in the set. here are the fronts:
what team is this: 1968 saint louis cardinals
why this team?: the national league champions lost the world series in 1968 to the tigers, another timeless team. along the way, they won 97 games.
which players are featured?: bob gibson, julian javier, lou brock, orlando cepeda, steve carlton
why these players?: in the year of the pitcher, bob gibson was on another planet and the rest of the players featured contributed to the team's success in varying ways.
bob gibson was the national league's cy young award winner and most valuable player in 1968. he was 22-9 in 34 starts with 28 complete games and 13 shutouts. his 1.12 era, 268 strikeouts, and 0.85 whip led the league. in the world series, gibson once again made 3 starts and threw 3 complete games with a shutout, just as he had in 1967. this time, however, he was 2-1 as he took the loss in game 7. still, gibson homered for the second series in a row and set a fall classic record with 17 strikeouts in his game 1 masterpiece.
julian javier's average fell to .260 during the regular season, but the cardinals' second baseman rallied to hit .333 in the series. he had a hit in each of the first 6 games of the series, but was 0 for 4 in game 7.
lou brock led the league in steals for the third straight season with 62. he also paced the national league in doubles and triples, but his average dropped 20 points to .279. still, his on-base percentage (.328) stayed steady from the .327 clip he posted in 1967 and he finished 6th in the mvp voting. brock had another monster world series, too. he had 13 hits, 7 steals, 2 homers, 5 rbi, a .464 average and an ops of 1.373 over the 7 games. he was involved in probably the biggest play of the series - in the 5th inning of game 5 he tried to bowl over tigers' catcher bill freehan rather than slide into home and was called out effectively ending a rally in a game the cardinals eventually lost 5-3.
orlando cepeda followed up his mvp season with a less than stellar line - even for the 'year of the pitcher' - of 16/73/.248. his postseason in 1968 was better than it had been in 1967, however, as he slugged two home runs and drove in six runs over the 7 games.
steve carlton won 13 games during the regular season in 33 starts. he had 10 complete games and 5 shutouts and made the all-star team for the first time. he was relegated to the bullpen in the world series however, and made just 2 appearances. in those games, carlton gave up 3 runs in 4 innings of work. he wouldn't appear in another world series until 1980.
the stadium on the back is...?: 'old' busch stadium. and it checks out, of course.
did upper deck get it right?: we know the stadium is correct and the team itself is worthy. plus, bob gibson is a no brainer as is lou brock. nelson briles would have been a decent choice (he didn't pass away until 2005), and ray washburn, who was featured in the 1964 and 1967 teams, would have made sense here as he was 14-8 with a 2.26 era in 30 starts. not sure why upper deck left him out. same goes for tim mccarver, who was still the cardinals' everyday catcher in 1968 and had a decent world series. i don't have any complaints about the photos used except for steve carlton's image, which is from 1971.
is this team timeless?: yes, even if only because of bob gibson's performance in the 'year of the pitcher'.