Tuesday, December 24, 2019

1981 Topps Pete Vuckovich

The front: Great photo as a sly-looking Vuckovich gives the camera the side-eye while relaxing on the grass at spring training.

The back: This is an error card; the shutout occurred on June 26, not June 23. He outdueled Jim Palmer and the Orioles 2-0.

The player: Vuckovich was an excellent pitcher for the Cardinals from 1978 to 1980, and was traded after the 1980 season to the Brewers, along with Rollie Fingers and Ted Simmons, for David Green, Dave LaPoint, Sixto Lezcano and Lary Sorensen, a lopsided trade that somehow didn’t come back to bite the Cardinals. He became a full-fledged star in 1981 and 1982, going 32-10 over the two seasons and winning the Cy Young Award in 1982. He lost Game 7 of the World Series to his old team, however. The Brewers rode Vuckovich very hard, for example having him throw 173 pitches two days after receiving a cortisone shot to his shoulder. The injuries caught up to Vuckovich after 1982, as he pitched in only 31 games over four years after that, going 8-16.

The man: Known as the “Mad Monk”, Vuckovich was known for his wild demeanor on the mound. From Wikipedia: “He would fidget, twitch, pace, and convulse while on the mound. He was known to cross his eyes and stick his tongue out at batters. He would spit in his glove, scream at umpires while in the stretch, and sometimes step to the back of the mound and dry heave.” I can’t imagine a pitcher doing that today. He would also sometimes wear a Nike shoe on one foot and an Adidas on the other. This can clearly be seen on his 1982 Brewers Police baseball card.
After his career he mellowed out and became a long-time scout and coach, currently in the Diamondbacks organization.

My collection: I have 19 of his cards, from 1977 to 1986. I would be interested in trading for the aforementioned 1982 Brewers Police #50.

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