On our last visit, we turned the pages of a Street & Smith’s Baseball Yearbook from 1973. Pennant race predictions and AL prospects were reviewed along with some individual articles about relief pitching, tape-measure HR’s and the losses of Gil Hodges & Roberto Clemente. This time, we’ll look at the NL prospects of the time and also delve into sociology.
One of the interesting results of looking through a publication that is 40+ years old is the window into the society of the time. While the basics of baseball endure through the decades, everything around the game changes. So, in addition to the full-page ads for table games like Strat-O-Matic, APBA & Major League Baseball, let’s see what other advertising paid for full-page space to reach the baseball fan in 1973…
> Inside Cover, Huey Sports Enterprises – This was a company that essentially offered betting advice on baseball. It was Las Vegas based and for $150 a month, you could phone in each day and get their picks for which teams would win. They claimed to have had a winning record of over 75% during the 1972 season.
> P. 1, La Salle Extension University – Labeled as a “Correspondence Institution”, they offered education in everything from accounting to interior decorating.
> P. 5, Sports World Productions – Offered official league films of the NBA, the Super Bowl, the World Cup and other sports events. They were available in “Standard” or “Super 8” and were $14.95 each.
> P. 7, Fleetwood Instant Replay Record Albums – For $3.98 each, you could order these for your turn table. They were actual recordings of sports highlights including the “Miracle Mets”, “Big Red Machine” and “Year of the Tiger”.
> P. 9-11, Joe Weider’s Body-Building Booklet – On the order form, you could choose from “bigger arms”, “athletic legs”, “lose weight” and “magnetic personality”. Guess I’ll take “all of the above”.
> P. 17, Cleveland Institute of Electronics – Promised to get you out of that “dull, low pay job” and teach you about the growing world of electronics.
> P. 21, Powerex – Offered a new breakthru (their spelling) in muscle building using Isokinetics. For $11.95, you got the exerciser and a wall chart.
> P. 23, A.S. Barnes & Co. – For $12.50, you could order the 6th revised edition of the Official Encyclopedia of Baseball.
> P.29, Hymie’s Inc. – Another sports tout service out of Las Vegas. Offers to make you part of the “In Crowd”.
> P. 40, Sports Illustrated Book Club – Your membership got you three books for $3 along with your commitment to purchase four additional books in the next 12 months.
> Inside Back Cover, Charles Atlas – In case Weider didn’t transform you, Atlas promises to get you a “big, brawny, he-man body”.
One of the smaller ads in the back of the magazine offers a complete set of 1973 Topps baseball cards for $13…the current book value is $350!
Circling back to P. 115 and Bill Reddy’s preview of minor league prospects, let’s look at the picks from the NL…
> Braves, Andre Thornton – Never made it with the Braves but was an impact bat for the Indians in the late 70’s & early 80’s and ended up with 253 lifetime HR’s.
> Cubs, Pat Bourque – Was the MVP of the AAA American Association in 1972, but only had 405 MLB AB’s with a .215 BA over four seasons.
> Reds, Gene Locklear – Led the American Association in hitting with a .325 BA, but was traded to the Padres in June of ’73 and only had 595 AB’s in five seasons.
> Astros, J.R. Richard – Became one of the most dominant Pitchers in the game striking out over 300 batters in two different seasons. His career was cut short at age 30 after suffering a stroke during the 1980 season.
> Dodgers, Tom Paciorek – MVP of the Pacific Coast League in ’72, but never had a big impact in the Dodger line-up. Did end up playing parts of 18 seasons in the big leagues with a lifetime BA of .282.
> Expos, Pepe Mangual – Led the AAA International League with 91 Runs & 39 SB’s. Had one very productive campaign with Montreal in 1975 when he scored 84 Runs and swiped 33 bags, but by 1977 he was out of the game.
> Mets, Dave Schneck – Hit 24 HR’s in the minors in ’72, but never found a groove in the big leagues. Hit .199 in 413 lifetime AB’s.
> Phillies, Bob Boone – Stepped in as the regular Catcher in ’73 and had a 19-year major league career with seven Gold Gloves to his credit.
> Pirates, Richie Zisk – Hit .324 in his rookie season and went on to play 13 years with over 200 HR’s and two All-Star appearances.
> Cardinals, Ray Busse – The Redbirds thought they had their SS of the future after acquiring him in November of ’72, but it never happened. Had 155 lifetime AB’s with a .146 BA.
> Padres, Randy Elliott – Another top prospect that never fulfilled the promise, he hit only .215 in parts of four seasons.
> Giants, John D’Acquisto – Spent one more season in the minors and then was the NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year in ’74. To close the circle on this reflection, John & I have become friends over the last few years and he works for MLB in Arizona on the pace-of-play project. Yes, it is a small world.
Hope you enjoyed this trip to 1973…we’ll utilize the time machine again in the near future.