Wednesday, June 24, 2009

1980 Burger King "Pitch, Hit & Run" Baseball #5, Jerry Koosman

The Corporate King of Deflowering released this 1980 Topps look-a-like to coincide with the nationwide "Pitch, Hit & Run" skills competition. 33 players and an unnumbered checklist comprise the fairly small set, which I assume went out over BK counters and at the event itself. Almost everyone in the set's well-known, so let's link to five guys you might not remember.
  • #24 Enos Cabell: Sharp Astros leadoff hitter from 1976 to 1980.
  • #27 Ron LeFlore: Discovered in prison by (noted humanitarian) Billy Martin and signed with Detroit in mid-70s. Stole 97 bases for Montreal in 1980.
  • #29 Omar Moreno: 1979 World Champ with the Pirates. 96 steals in 1980 and only man with 90+ not to lead league, courtesy of LeFlore.
  • #31 Bill North: A fast Bay Area outfielder who lacked Rickey's judgment; led league in CS four times.
  • #32 Frank Taveras: SS who suffered 1979 trade from (champ) Pirates to (6th place) Mets. Hit 2 career homers, one an inside-the-park grand slam.
The Pitch, Hit & Run challenge remains alive and well, but Aquafina now pays the bills.

One of the classic inning eaters, Jerry Koosman played from 1967 to 1985 and won 222 games. He pitched just above .500 ball for 4 different teams, but won 20+ games twice, going 20-13 for the (pictured) 1979 Twinkies.

The card back copies most of Topps' design, but swaps out the player highlight cartoon for a competition logo. (Check out for an example scan of a certain well-known player.) His 4 post-season wins included the clinching game for 1969's Miracle Mets.

How does a pitcher's environment impact their performance? Note Koosman's similar numbers in 1978 and 1979. Virtually identical games, runs, earned runs, Ks, walks, and less than 1 more inning thrown per start. Even with "just" a 82-80 record, the Twins got him 17 more wins! It's an astounding difference.


Dean Family said...

I am also aware of a Nolan Ryan Burger King card in which he's with the Astros and not the Angels, but most all used the same picture as the 1980 topps. Also, the reverse is in red while the 1980 issue is in blue.

Matthew Glidden said...

Good point, Ryan's card differs notably. He's a mid-pitch Angel in the Topps set #580:

He's a portrait Astro in the Burger King set.