Sunday, April 18, 2021

A Custom Card that's Juuust a Bit Outside

Here's Sam McDowell, displaying a follow-through with purpose on his 1964 Topps card.

 
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!


BONUS CONTENT

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.




Major League hit theaters in 1989. And being that Rick Vaughn and Willie "Mays" Hayes were standout rookies on that Indians team, they'd have been placed on a rookie stars card, don't you think? I changed the year on the top to match.

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!


17 comments:

  1. Well done as usual! I actually though you were going with Sam Malone for a second, but this works, too.

    I was a big fan of Major League 1 and 2. So many great lines come to mind - Lou's speech explaining what a winning streak is, always comes to mind when my team is in the tank. Rick's "terminator" pitch getting renamed (and obliterated). Cerrano's Jobu routine (and talking to his bat) .. I could go on :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. GM: "Lou, how'd you like to come manage the Indians?"
      Manager: "Oh I don't know - I've got a customer that needs a set of tires put on. Let me get back to you."

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    2. Chris: "That looked like the terminator, only slower. Maybe it was his 'out-of-stater'. Or it could have been the 'hibernator'. That baby is definitely going away for the winter."

      Jim: I'd have to think that phone call was based on an actual experience or two from the minor leagues.

      Delete
  2. Your customs are awesome! Great job! Big fan of the Major League franchise. Can't think of a favorite scene or line... but this one popped into my head first: "it's very bad to steal Jobu's rum" "very bad".

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    Replies
    1. Thanks very much, Fuji! There are so many great scenes to choose from. The one that comes to my mind is when Harry Doyle (Bob Uecker) falls asleep during the game, and his very quiet assistant has to take over the play-by-play.

      The batter hits a line drive to the outfield on the very next pitch.

      Assistant: "Fly ball..."

      Outfielder sprints for it, makes a fantastic diving catch.

      Assistant: "Caught..."

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  3. I like that rookie card.

    I liked Major League when it came out. I think it's benefited from some nostalgic overkill. It wasn't phenomenal or anything, but it was 2 hours of entertainment. I never saw any of the sequels.

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    1. Thanks, Night Owl! And yes, the first film was the best one as far as I’m concerned. I didn’t even know there was a third film until a few years ago.

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  4. You forgot "He led the AL in strikeouts 4 times in the 5 years from 1965-69" (missing the '67 title by 10 strikeouts).

    http://1967topps.blogspot.com/2014/04/sam-mcdowell-295.html

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    Replies
    1. Five times in six years, if I read his stats right. That’s even more impressive. Thanks Jim!

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  5. I've seen Major League a thousand times. I'll never get tired of it.

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    Replies
    1. Same here, Jeremy. It’s been years since I’ve seen it. Maybe I’ll add it to my watch list again. Going to check out your blog, too.

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  6. In '89 Baseball Card Magazine was doing in-magazine cards based on '60s Topps designs, so that totally could have been a card that had came out that year.

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    Replies
    1. Interesting info, Bo! It would have been a hit if the magazine released some Major League–inspired cards back in '89.

      Delete
  7. "We need to teach this guy some control before he kills somebody."

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    Replies
    1. Hah. Good one, Nick! I also like this one, from Harry Doyle:

      "Now here's Rick Vaughn, a juvenile delinquent in the off-season, making his major league debut..."

      Delete
  8. Awesome customs! Like you, I had somehow overlooked the career that Sam McDowell had until reading this post. I actually have a copy of his '64 Topps just because I really like that image, but had not appreciated how effective a pitcher he was. Thanks for cluing me in to that!

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    Replies
    1. You're very welcome, shoebox! Along with learning more about McDowell, it was also fun to discover the similarities he had with Vaughn while I was doing research for this post.

      Delete