Monday, July 23, 2018

The 1974 Topps Rookie All-Star Team - Bake McBride

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

I have completed the run of these up through 2018 Series One, 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! 
Outfield - Bake McBride

The 1974 NL Rookie of the Year displayed tremendous speed in Saint Louis. Alongside Lou Brock, Bake McBride combined with the All-Time Great for 148 stolen bases in 1974, a record for most steals by a pair of teammates. The mark would be surpassed when Rickey Henderson stole 130 by himself in 1982 (Teammate Davey Lopes also had 28). Bake was known for an unusual stance at the plate, placing his weight on his front foot instead of his back foot.

While he did not break Lou Brock's record, he did have a unique game winnner in his rookie campaign. In the 25th inning of a marathon against the Mets, Bake took an aggressive lead off first base. The subsequent pick off throw from Hank Webb sailed into right field, which resulted in a runaway McBride! Bake wheeled around the bases and slid safely into home as Mets' catcher Ron Hodges mishandled the throw back in. Sonny Siebert pitched a clean final inning and Saint Louis prevailed 4-3.

McBride lone All-Star appearance came during an injury filled 1976 season. He had a great year while healthy, however, including a career high .335 batting average and 91 hits in just 72 games played. Despite the injuries to his knees and his shoulder, McBride continued to provide value with his speed on the bases. His 1977 season saw a career high in homers and stolen bases, though he did not mesh well with the new Cardinals' manager. McBride signed a 3 year contract with Saint Louis in May, but was traded to Philadelphia in June.

He was an instant hit in Philadelphia, taking over Right Field and serving as a catalyst for the Phils 1977 playoff run. He hit .338 down the stretch as the Phillies surged to the postseason. After two tough defeats at the hands of the Dodgers, McBride and the Phils would again make the playoffs in 1980 and he provided clutch hitting and a steady presence in the clubhouse. He would provide the spark in Game 1 of the 1980 World Series, hitting a 3 run shot leading the team to victory. They would go on to win the Series, with McBride hitting .305 with 5 runs batted in.

The injuries to McBride's legs over the years had taken their toll, but it was an eye infection from contact lenses that derailed his 1982 season. Cleveland had just traded for McBride that Februrary, and he hit well as the starting Right Fielder, now playing in more hospitable natural grass in Cleveland. He began to have issues related to his contact lenses in May, having worn them regularly since 1970 without any problems. He would return in 1983, but more injuries forced Cleveland's hand, and he was released at the end of the season.

He went on to coach in the Mets' minor league system and even found his way back onto the diamond in the Senior Professional Baseball League in Florida.

McBride finished his career with one World Series ring, one Rookie of the Year award, and one All-Star Appearance to go along with a lot of memories.