|1964 Topps #391, Sam McDowell|
His determined gaze and facial features remind me a little bit of an actor who happened to star in a couple of films about baseball. Any idea who I'm thinking of?
Here are some hints:
In those films, the actor was a pitcher just like Sam McDowell.
In those films, he pitched for the Cleveland Indians just like Sam McDowell.
Before he became a Major League pitcher (extra giveaway hint), he pitched in the California Penal League.
Enough hints? Okay, here's the custom card:
Rick Vaughn from the Major League films!
Interestingly, aside from whatever resemblance you might see in the two guys, Mr. Vaughn and Mr. McDowell are similar in other ways.
(1) Just like Rick Vaughn, Sam McDowell had a mean fastball. He led the A.L. in strikeouts five times in the span of six years (1965-1970). Three of those five times he led the entire majors, too.
(2) Just like Rick Vaughn, Sam McDowell had more than the usual trouble controlling his pitches. (In case you need a refresher on Vaughn's control issues, here's a short clip that'll do it for you. And here's another one.) McDowell led the A.L. in wild pitches three times, finishing his career with 140. He also led the majors in walks five times. And get this: Two of those five instances came during the same year he led the league in strikeouts! (1968: 283 strikeouts, 110 walks; 1970: 304 strikeouts, 131 walks)
(3) Both pitchers had good nicknames. Rick Vaughn was "Wild Thing" for fairly obvious reasons at this point, while Sam McDowell was "Sudden Sam" because his smooth windup and delivery produced a fastball that reached home plate before hitters expected it to.
(4) McDowell once matched Rick Vaughn in the temper department, becoming so frustrated with an umpire that he flung a baseball into the upper deck in Baltimore.
All of that aside, McDowell had a stellar career that I have somehow managed to overlook. Here are his numbers, accumulated across 15 seasons:
141 wins, 134 losses, 3.17 ERA, 2492.1 innings pitched, 2453 strikeouts, 103 complete games, 23 shutouts
He was a six-time all-star, topped 300 strikeouts in a season twice, and won the ERA title in 1965 with a snazzy 2.18. Well done!
There's no doubt some of you have already said, "You made an inaccurate card! Rick Vaughn is a right-handed pitcher!"
And you're correct, of course.
To fix this issue, here's the right-handed version.
It does look better, doesn't it?
EXTRA BONUS CONTENT
I like the design of the 1964 rookie stars cards. One of the Indians' examples features an outfielder and a pitcher.
|1964 Topps #499, Salmon/Seyfried Rookie Stars|
Those two guys made me think of a similar outfield/pitcher combination from the film, and inspired another custom card.
I'm sure the card would have been a hot collectible in '89.
Any Major League fans out there? Do you have a favorite line or a favorite scene from the film? Share in the comment section. And thanks for reading!