this post covers the 1975 boston red sox and cards numbered 105 to 113 in the set. here are the fronts:
what team is this?: the american league champion 1975 boston red sox
why this team?: the red sox won 95 games during the regular season, and then swept the three-time defending world champion a's in the alcs before losing to the reds in one of the most memorable fall classics of all time.
which players are featured?: carl yastrzemski, carlton fisk, cecil cooper, dwight evans, fred lynn, jim rice, luis tiant, rick burleson, and rico petrocelli.
why these players?: this is pretty much the starting lineup for the 1975 bosox - only doug griffin and maybe bernie carbo are missing. let's break it down.
one of two players appearing in the set for the second time as red sox players, carl yastrzemski played in 149 games for the red sox during the 1975 regular season. by the way, here's a list of all the players in history who played in more games than carl yastrzemski. pete rose. that's it. anyway, yaz was back to first base almost exclusively after nearly splitting his time between the outfield and first in 1974. he hit .269 with 14 home runs and 60 rbi, but still scored 91 runs. he made the all-star team for the 12th time, although not as a starter. yaz hit .455 in the alcs against the a's, and then hit .310 against the reds in the world series. he scored 7 times and drove in 4, but all 9 of his hits were singles.
carlton fisk missed almost the entire first half of the 1975 season, but came back to catch in 71 games. he hit .331 with 10 homers and 52 rbi, and then hit .417 in the alcs. the memorable moment, as documented in his lone card in this set, came in game 6 of the world series when he waved his 12th inning home run fair to force game 7. fisk had another home run in the series, but hit only .240 over the 7 games.
dwight evans was the sox' right fielder in 1975, as he was and would be until 1990. he hit 13 homers with 56 rbi, and had a .274 average in 128 games. as you might guess, the strong-armed right fielder also led the league with 15 outfield assists. the a's held him to just one hit (a double) in the alcs, but he hit .292 in the fall classic against cincinnati, with a double, triple, and home run among his 7 hits. his home run tied the game at 5 in game 3 of the series, essentially forcing extra innings in which the reds would triumph thanks to some possible interference by ed armbrister and a joe morgan single.
fred lynn's 1975 season is the rookie season that all others are, or should be, measured by. en route to winning both the american league rookie of the year award and the most valuable player award, lynn led the league in runs (103), doubles (47), slugging percentage (.566) and ops (.967). he was second in batting average (.331 to rod carew's .359), 4th in total bases, and 3rd in rbi. he also won a gold glove and was named to the all-star team. lynn's success continued into the postseason, where he hit .364 against the a's in the alcs. he then hit .280 against the reds in the world series along with a homer and 5 rbi, tying dewey evans for the team lead in runs driven in over the 7 game series.
jim rice was also a rookie in 1975, and, had fred lynn not run away with the award, he would have easily been voted as the al rookie of the year. as it is, rice finished 2nd in the voting thanks to a line of 22/102/.309 with 92 runs scored. he also finished 3rd in the mvp voting (john mayberry of the royals finished 2nd in between the two red sox outfielders). rice may have made the difference in the world series in 1975, as he was unable to play due to a late-season injury sustained when he was hit by a pitch.
luis tiant was an 18-game winner for the bosox in 1975. he made 35 starts, completing 18, and earning a decision in a whopping 90% (32 of 35) of them. his era was high at 4.02, but he did manage a couple of shutouts in september. he was peaking at the right time apparently, as he threw a 3-hit complete game in his lone alcs start (he gave up a single unearned run), and then won 2 of his 3 world series starts as well. the first start (and victory) came in game 1, via a 5-hit shutout of the reds, and his second start, in game 4, also was a complete game victory. tiant's third start of the series came in game 6 where he pitched into the 8th inning but had no decision in the outcome. that would be the final postseason appearance of el tiante's career.
man, the red sox had a good young team in 1975. rick burleson was their shortstop, and in his second year in the big leagues, he hit .252 with 66 runs scored and 62 driven in over 158 games. he finished 13th in the league mvp voting and then hit .444 against the a's in the alcs. he followed that up by hitting .292 in the world series, with an obp of .393. the next time rooster would appear in the postseason, however, would be with the angels against the red sox in 1986.
rico petrocelli is the other holdover from the 1967 sox team to be featured. 1975 was his next-to-last season, but he still played in 115 games, mostly at third base. he hit just .239 but did drive in 59 runs. petrocelli was one of the few red sox batters to not have a strong alcs at the plate, hitting just .167, although he did have a home run to his credit. he did better in the world series, hitting .308 with 4 rbi, but had just one extra base hit (a double) to go with 7 singles.
the stadium on the back is...?: fenway park, of course. that's where the red sox have played since 1912. although the photo is much more recent, as i believe the monster seats are visible in the picture. they weren't installed until the early 2000's.
did upper deck get it right?: the team certainly belongs in the set, and the players chosen were regulars on the team. bernie carbo would have made sense, as it was carbo's 3-run 8th inning home run that tied the score in game 6, setting up fisk's blast. the real tragedy, however, is in the photos.
yastrzemski's photo was taken in the original yankee stadium (note the greenish facade), so it can't be from any later than 1972. we know that from the uniform, too, as boston went to the pullovers in 1973. we don't know for sure when fisk's photo is taken, but the uniform looks right for 1975 (and most of the 70's, too) thanks to the waistband and the red cap the other guy is wearing. the same goes for lynn and burleson, so no complaints about those images. jim rice on the other hand, well, that photo has to be from no earlier than 1979, the year the bosox went back to button down jerseys. same goes for tiant, although i would point out the fact that it looks like he is holding a 1977 topps (or maybe o-pee-chee?) card in his hand, so we know just by that fact that the photo is not from 1975.
the worst of the worst, howver, is rico petrocelli. not only is the photo, like yaz's, from before 1972, it is the same exact photo that upper deck used for petrocelli in the 1967 team subset. that may be the worst offense in this set.
is this team timeless?: of course. it was the last postseason appearance for yastrzemski, and the fisk home run is an all-time classic. they took the reds to seven games and got all of boston's hopes up.