Monday, September 10, 2018

The 1974 Topps Rookie All-Star Team - Larry Milbourne

Here they are - the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, selected "by the Youth of America" by a vote of fellow MLB players following the 1974 season and featured in the 1975 Topps set. 

I have completed the run of these up through 2018 Series Two, at least all regular issue cards that bear the All-Star Rookie Trophy. 

Topps decided to skip the Trophies on the 1974 Topps Set, but they made a triumphant return in 1975. I wanted to show my appreciation for this expression of good judgement, so for the 1974 Lineup, I will do a separate post for each player. This was a pretty good crop of players, so let's dive in! 

Larry Milbourne is to Major League Baseball as Margo Martindale is to television and film. He's the quintessential supporting character on the diamond, playing for 6 different Major League teams over 11 seasons.

Milbourne was named the 2nd baseman for the Topps Rookie All-Star team, despite only starting 29 times for the Astros at 2nd. He did appear in 112 games, but had just 148 plate appearances. This was a tough year for rookie 2nd baseman - I tried to find a more deserving candidate, but the closest I came was the Red Sox Short Stop/2nd Baseman Rick Burleson. Burleson had a very good rookie campaign, but only had 31 games at 2nd and 88 at SS. So, Milbourne's intangibles as a defensive replacement for veteran Tommy Helms (who was the 1966 NL R.O.Y. and a Topps Rookie All-Star in his own right) made the difference.

He worked almost exclusively as a utility infielder throughout his career. By the time he made the Astros' roster, he'd already been in 4 other organizations- showing flashes of speed (21 steals for the Giants' Single A squad), average (.301 for rookie league Orioles, .305 for the Giants), and solid defense throughout. He would be drafted in the annual minor league draft 3 straight seasons before Houston selected him in the Rule V draft, securing a major league roster spot for him.

Following the 1976 season, Milbourne was dealt to Seattle for Roy Thomas. He would record the first walk off hit in Mariners' franchise history, an RBI double in the team's 2nd game ever. In 1978, he would get a much larger role, playing in 123 games for the Mariners. He responded with a respectable .278 average and a career high in runs batted in.

Milbourne was a Topps Traded darling in the early 80s, and this sequence doesn't even include his brief 29 game career in Minnesota. If you want to see proof, check out this post from a blogger that sought autographs from every Twins player. A custom card was made of Milbourne in a Twins uni.

The highlight of Milbourne's MLB career came in 1981 with the Yankees - he hit .462 in the ALCS and .327 for the playoffs overall.

His career coda came in the Senior League, playing for the short lived and poorly named St. Lucie Legends. The team lost 20 of its first 23 games, and finished dead least in the league, then went out of business in the off-season.

1 comment:

  1. Nice shot of Yankee Stadium on that 78T card... and that St. Lucie Legends card is sweet. Now that's the way a photo should be cropped.