this post covers the 1975 oakland a's and cards numbered 123 to 126 in the set. here are the fronts:
why this team?: they won the american league west for the fourth straight year and were heading towards a chance to defend their three consecutive world series titles until they met the red sox in the playoffs.
which players are featured?: just four for this team - billy williams, gene tenace, jim perry, and vida blue.
why these players?: well, billy williams and jim perry have appeared in the set before, although it was with different teams. williams was part of the 1969 cubs team, and perry checked in with the 1965 minnesota twins. both blue and tenace have appeared as part of the a's dynasty - blue in 1974 and tenace in 1973. to me, this team seems to be a bit of a checklist filler.
let's break it down.
billy williams joined the a's after the 1974 season, having spent his entire career to that point with the cubs. he hit only .244 for the a's in '75, but did play in 155 games (mostly as their designated hitter) and hit 23 homers with 81 rbi. one of those homers happened to be the 400th of his career, to boot. in his first taste of the postseason, williams started two of the three alcs games, and appeared as a pinch-hitter in the other. in all, he was 0 for 7 with a walk.
gene tenace tied his career high in runs scored (83) in 1975, and set personal bests in home runs (29) and rbi (87). he hit .255 and was an all-star for the only time in his career. oddly enough, he started the midsummer classic for the american league at first base, even though he spent most of his time in 1975 behind the plate. in the alcs against the red sox, tenace was 0 for 9 with 3 walks.
jim perry arrived in oakland in may of 1975 via the trade that sent blue moon odom to cleveland. perry appeared in 15 games (11 starts) for the a's, and had a record of 3-4. he threw two complete games, one of which was a one-hit shutout against the baltimore orioles. perry was released by the a's in august of 1975, meaning he did not get a chance to pitch in the postseason.
vida blue was 22-11 in 1975. he appeared in 39 games, 38 of which were starts. in his lone relief appearance, he earned a save. to go along with his 13 complete games and 2 shutouts, blue also struck out 189 batters - the most he had k'd since his rookie year when he fanned 301. blue was named the starting pitcher in the all-star game and finished 6th in the league cy young voting. blue got the start in game 2 of the alcs, but lasted only 3+ innings, allowing 3 runs without recording an out in the 4th inning.
the stadium on the back is...?: once again, the oakland alameda county stadium. home to the a's since 1968.
did upper deck get it right?: as i said earlier, this seems to be a bit of a checklist grab. the team made the playoffs but was swept by the red sox, so it's not even a league champion team. all four players featured have previously appeared in the set, and one (perry) wasn't even with the team for the entire season. although i will say that it is nice to have a card showing perry as an athletic. given that, i am actually surprised that phil garner (who will show up with the 1979 pittsburgh pirates) wasn't given a a card. other players that would have made sense include joe rudi, rollie fingers, and ken holtzman - all of whom have appeared in the set already. i am going to say that this team should not have been in the set.
as for the photos, we know that the billy williams photo is either from 1975 or 1976, since those are the only years he played in oakland. the tenace photo is from the same time because, thanks to the guy in the dugout with his feet up, it looks like it is from the same game or maybe even inning as the williams image. jim perry's photo is certainly from 1975 as he was only with the team from may until august of that year. the vida blue photo, however, is from no later than 1971 due to the uniform he is wearing. three out of four isn't too bad for this set.
is this team timeless?: not to me. the 1972-74 a's are certainly 'timeless teams', but the 1975 team, although comprised of essentially the same players, is not considered to be part of the oakland dynasty of the early 1970's.