Since my book, 1970s Baseball: A History and Analysis of the Decade’s Best Seasons, Teams, and Players, ranks all 26 clubs and Top 10 players overall at every position, I decided to select a 1970s All-New York team. Here’s part 2 of 3 posts, focusing on outfield selections:
White was one of the steadiest and most underrated players of the decade. He played in 135 or more games 8 times, including 2 seasons where he played in all 162. Roy led all New York players in runs scored (752), triples (37), walks (720), and stolen bases (161), and was second only to Nettles in home runs. He was an excellent left fielder who finished in the top 2 of the AL in range factor and top 5 in fielding % for 8 straight years, and led the league in assists in 1975, but never managed to win a Gold Glove.
CF: Bobby Murcer, Yankees, 1970-74, ’79 121 HR, 484 RBI, .281 Avg
Murcer made 4 straight All-Star games as a Yankee and led the league with a .427 OB% in 1971. In 1972 he won a Gold Glove and led the AL in runs scored (102) and total bases (314). While Murcer never lived up to his hype as the next Mickey Mantle, he did hit a solid .288 with 144 doubles in 5 1/2 70s seasons in the Bronx. Traded away to the Giants for Bobby Bonds after the 1974 season, he was re-acquired in mid year 1979 and hit .273 with 8 home runs in 74 games.
Jackson accomplished a great deal in only 3 ’70s seasons in New York. When not feuding with Munson, George Steinbrenner, or Billy Martin he helped the Yankees capture two World Series championships and posted the best on base % (.374) and slugging percentage (.524) of any New York player. Does anyone need to be reminded how good Jackson was in the ’77 and ’78 post-seasons? How about 26-72 (.361) with 9 HR, 3 doubles, 23 RBI , and 18 runs scored in 21 games.
Le Grand Orange stabilized right field and was a solid run producer for the Mets after being acquired in 1972. He led all Mets with a .790 OPS and was second only to Milner in RBI. Despite injuring his shoulder making a running catch in the 1973 NLCS against the Reds, he hit .423 in the World Series against Oakland and finished his only post season 14-41 (.343) with 4 HR and 11 RBI in 11 games.
Mazzilli brought some excitement to a dormant Shea Stadium. After being called up in late 1976 he led the ’70s Mets with a .362 OB%, stole 81 bases, hit 88 doubles, and played a smooth center field. Lee made the 1979 All-Star team and hit a game tying homer in the 8th and walked with the bases loaded off Ron Guidry in the 9th to put the NL ahead to stay in a 7-6 win.
Mick the Quick brought unprecedented speed to the Big Apple, coming to the Yanks after leading the American League with 70 steals for California in 1975. As a Yankee Rivers was a perfect fit in the leadoff spot, hitting .299 with 26 triples and 93 stolen bases over 4 seasons while displaying great range in center field. New York captured 3 straight pennants and 2 World Series championships in Rivers’ first three years. He also kept Reggie in check. When Mr October bragged to reporters that he had an IQ of 160, Rivers interrupted by asking “160 out of what, 1000?”
Just missed the cut:
Lou Piniella, Yankees
Sweet Lou was another great piece added to the Bronx Bombers championship puzzle. He was stolen from Kansas City for a washed-up Lindy McDaniel. McDaniel won 6 games in two years for KC while Piniella hit .295 for New York with 971 hits over 11 seasons, including 686 hits and 121 doubles during the 70s.
Dave Kingman, Mets/Yankees
I really wanted to justify a roster spot for my childhood favorite player. But Kong only played 2 1 / 2 seasons for the Mets in the 70s before being traded the same night as Tom Seaver in 1977. He did belt 36 and 37 homers in his two full years and even hit 4 HR with 8 RBI in an 8 game cup of coffee with the Yankees in late ’77. In the end poor defense, a .230 batting average, and 354 strikeouts in less than 1300 at-bats was too much to overcome.
Ron Blomberg, Yankees
The major league’s first designated hitter was the only New York player to hit over .300 (.301) during the 1970s, and his .486 slugging % was second to Reggie Jackson. As a high school senior he received more than 100 basketball and football scholarship offers. Unfortunately due to chronic knee and shoulder injuries he reached 300 at-bats in a season only once and never had 100 hits. His career was cut short by age 27.
Next Post, Part 3 – Pitchers