Sunday, April 21, 2024

From the Favorites Box: Astros Team Checklist, 1979 Topps #381

A series where I post some thoughts about favorite cards. Previous cards in the series are available here.
Here's an image you don't see on a team checklist every day.
I mean, the Houston Astros are in uniform, as per standard practice. But after that? It's filled with a whole bunch of randomness and fun.

First of all, they're posed outside of their stadium, in what might very well be the parking lot. Second, instead of the usual benches and chairs, they've brought in two motorized trolleys of some kind. (Could they be from a state fair?) And let's look even closer.

Some of the guys are sitting on the front ledge of the trolleys, while others are sitting in the seats.

Perhaps lounging would be a more accurate verb. (See the two highlighted players on the right.) And look at the guy all the way on the left. He's just chilling on the hood!

Unfortunately, there just weren't enough seats in the trolleys for all the players, so some of them had to stand between them, in the middle of the shot.

A couple of poor guys even had to sit down on the concrete.
But here's the strangest part. Look all the way to the right of the image, way in the back.

I really can't be sure, but is that a guy in a gorilla suit? Or maybe Bigfoot?

We may never know.

Regardless, it's such a wacky, fun scene. Very fitting for the times, too. Just a couple of years earlier, the Bad News Bears had some memorable scenes filmed at the very same Astrodome.

As for the actual Astros of the time, they weren't Bad News Bears bad, but they weren't so great, either. The 1978 version of the club finished with a record of 74-88, placing them 5th out of the 6 clubs in the NL West. Here are some team leaders:
Games Played: Enos Cabell, 162
Batting Avg.: José Cruz, .315
Hits: Enos Cabell, 195
Doubles: José Cruz, 34
Triples: José Cruz, 9
Home Runs: Bob Watson, 14
RBI: José Cruz, 83
Stolen Bases: José Cruz, 37 
Wins: J.R. Richard, 18  
ERA: Vern Ruhle, 2.12
Strikeouts: J.R. Richard, 303
Saves: Joe Sambito, 11
You've got some good numbers in there, despite the team's losing record. And don't forget, they had those sweet "tequila sunrise" uniforms, which would last from 1975 through 1986. Fun times, for sure.

And for an image that reminds us of just how fun and quirky 1970s baseball could be, 1979 Topps #381 has a spot in my box of favorite cards.


  1. This really is a fantastic card. As soon as I finish publishing this comment, I'm gonna look for a nice copy for my binder. A big reason I like this card is that it stirs up memories from my childhood. I really do need to set some time aside to go watch that movie again.

    1. Same here, Fuji! I haven't watched any of the Bad News Bears movies in quite a long time.

  2. Your gorilla suit guy looks like Roy Orbison to me :)

    1. Could be, Jon! Orbison was born in Texas. I wonder if he was an Astros fan.