this post covers the 1975 cincinnati reds and cards numbered 114 to 122 in the set. here are the fronts:
what team is this?: the world champion 1975 cincinnati reds
why this team?: the reds won 108 games during the 1975 regular season, and then swept the pirates in the nlcs. they capped their season by winning their first world championship since 1940 as they beat the red sox in seven games. they were the 'big red machine'!
which players are featured: pedro borbon, dave concepcion, don gullett, george foster, joe morgan, johnny bench, rawly eastwick, sparky anderson, and tony perez
why these players?: well, let's find out.
pedro borbon pitched in 67 games for the reds in 1975, all in relief. he was 9-5 with 5 saves and a 2.95 era in those appearances which were just shy of will mcenaney's team leading 70 games. borbon earned the save in the reds' pennant clinching game 3 win over the pirates in the nlcs, and pitched in three world series games, giving up two runs over 3 innings of work.
shortstop dave concepcion was an all-star for the second time in 1975 (first time starting), and he also won his second straight gold glove that year. over 140 games in the regular season, he hit .274 and stole 33 bases. in the postseason, concepcion hit .455 against the pirates, and although he hit only .179 against the red sox in the world series, he did have a home run, 4 rbi and 3 stolen bases.
don gullett won 15 games for the reds in the regular season, tying him with gary nolan and jack billingham for the team lead. gullett lead the starting staff in era, however, with a 2.42 mark. he finished 5th in the league cy young award voting, and was chosen to start both game 1 of the nlcs and game 1 of the world series for the reds. against the pirates, gullett threw a complete game as the reds won 8-3. against boston, however, gullett gave up 10 hits and 4 runs in 6+ innings, and the reds lost game 1 6-0. he started game 5 a few days later, and earned the win with 8.2 innings pitched. gullett was then tapped to start game 7, in which he pitched 4 innings and gave up three runs.
george foster had a bit of a breakout year in 1975. the 26-year old played in 134 games and hit 23 home runs with 78 rbi and a .300 batting average. foster was 2 for 4 in each of the first two nlcs games, and then had two hits in 3 of the 7 games against the red sox. one of those games was game 6, in which he hit a two-run double to give the reds a 7th inning lead.
joe morgan won the first of his two back-to-back nl mvp awards in 1975. he hit .327 that year, with 67 stolen bases and a league leading .466 obp. he was also the national league's starting second baseman in the all-star game, and he won his third consecutive gold glove as well. morgan's regular season success didn't directly translate to the postseason, although all 3 of his hits in the nlcs were doubles, and he stole four bases. in the world series, he hit .259 with 4 runs scored and 2 steals. in game 7, however, morgan was 2 for 4 with a walk, and it was his 9th inning single that drove in the game (and series) winning run. a memorable moment to be sure.
johnny bench won his 8th straight gold glove for his work behind the plate in 1975. he also started his seventh consecutive all-star game and finished fourth in the league mvp voting for the second straight year. at the plate, bench hit 28 homers and drove in 110 runs during the regular season. in the nlcs, however, the pirates held him to just one hit in 13 at bats. he did a bit better in the world series, hitting .207 with a home run and 4 rbi.
1975 was rawly eastwick's rookie year, and he didn't disappoint. although he finished 3rd in the rookie-of-the-year balloting, eastwick led the national league with 22 saves. he had a 5-3 record in 58 appearances with an era of 2.60. eastwick was 3-0 in the postseason with a save, although the first of those wins came after he blew a save in game 3 of the nlcs. he earned the wins in both games 2 and 3 of the world series, and then got the save in the reds' game 5 victory. in game 6, it was eastwick who gave up bernie carbo's game-tying home run in the bottom of the eighth to set the stage for carlton fisk's walk-off homer in the 12th.
a first for our set so far - a manager is featured on a card. sparky anderson won his third pennant in 1975 with the reds. the 108 games that cincinnati won that year was the most any team managed by anderson (including the detroit tigers) ever won.
tony perez was the first baseman for the big red machine in 1975, and he hit .282 with 20 home runs and 109 rbi during the regular season. he was named to the all-star team, although he didn't start because steve garvey had begun his stranglehold on the position a year earlier. perez hit .417 against the pirates in the nlcs, and despite batting just .179 against the red sox in the world series, he drove in 7 runs with 3 homers.
the stadium on the back is...?: an outside shot of old riverfront stadium. that's where the reds played from 1970 through 2002. i did not realize that the stadium opened during the 1970 season, and hosted the 1970 all-star game a mere two weeks after the reds began playing there.
did upper deck get it right?: i think that each of these players were a big part of the reds' success in the mid-1970's. of course, pete rose, the 1975 world series mvp is missing from the set due to licensing issues stemming from his ban from baseball. other reds that would have made sense to be included are ken griffey (their right fielder), cesar geronimo (their center fielder), and maybe gary nolan or will mcenaney. still, the 9 that upper deck chose to represent this team, given their inability to include rose, make sense to me.
the photos, on the other hand, are not all kosher. for everyone but gullett and sparky, the photos could be from anywhere between 1972 and 1992. well, not until 1992, but you get the idea - the reds wore those pullover unis for a long time. that also means that the photos could be from 1975. i like eastwick's photo, by the way, with dodger stadium showing up in the background. however, for gullett and sparky, we have photos from no later than 1971.
gullett and sparky both first appeared in the reds' uniforms in 1970, so we know the photos are from either 1970 or 1971. in sparky's case, wayne granger offers no additional clues because he was on the team both years.
is this team timeless?: yes.