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#278 Bobby Shantz

06/15/2009

278 Bobby Shantz278 Bobby Shantz back

This is Shantz’ final card. He had, to this point, been represented in every regular issue set made  by Topps except for 1955.

My example of this card has mostly EX-MT qualities, but is somewhat severely wax-stained on the front of the card. Obviously the top card in a wax pack. No trivia question because Shantz had 15 years of MLB stats to pack on the back. The photo is a classic portrait shot, showing the then-38-year-old Shantz in the twilight of his career. He would only make it until June of ’64 in a Cards uniform before being shipped to the Cubs as part of the deal that brought Lou Brock to St. Louis. This is a common card, and the SMR is $8 in NM condition.

On a personal note, Shantz and I share the same birthday, September 26th. However, Bobby will be 84 this year while I’ll only be 32.

Bobby Shantz is one of those guys I had always heard of, but never knew much about his career. His biggest claim to fame, of course, is being named AL MVP in 1952 as a member of the Philadelphia A’s. That year, Bobby went 24-7 with a 2.48 ERA, league-leading 1.048 WHIP, and 27 complete games in 33 starts. He won the award despite suffering a season-ending hand injury while batting in a game in August. The A’s went 79-75, their last winning season in Philadelphia.

Shantz made his debut in 1949 and was an All-Star with the A’s in 1951 (when he went 18-10 with a 3.94 ERA) and during his MVP season. Shantz struggled with injuries in 1953 and ’54, and spent only two more years as a starter before moving to the bullpen for the rest of his career. He moved with the A’s to Kansas City, and was traded to the Yankees after the 1956 season in one of their famous one-sided deals that stocked the pinstripes and kept the A’s mired in futility.

Shantz made his final All-Star appearance in 1957 with the Yankees, leading the league with a 2.45 ERA and going 11-5 in 173 innings and 21 starts. He started Game 2 of the World Series that year, giving up four runs in three innings and taking the loss against Milwaukee. He did bounce back with three scoreless innings in relief in Game 4, keeping the Yankees in the game. New York rallied from a 4-0 deficit to tie it in the ninth, but Eddie Mathews hit a walkoff homer in the 10th to win it for Milwaukee. He also appeared in Game 7, allowing an unearned run in 2/3 of an inning as the Braves shut out New York in the finale.

Shantz also pitched for the Yankees in the 1960 WS. In Game 7 against the Pirates, he entered the game in the third inning with the Yankees trailing 4-0. He threw four scoreless innings, during which time the Yanks came back to take a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth. But Casey Stengel went with Shantz just a bit too long, as he allowed consecutive singles to Gino Cimoli, Bill Virdon, and Dick Groat to lead off the inning. Stengel lifted Bobby from the game, but all three runners would score in a five-run inning, giving Pittsburgh a 9-7 lead. The Yankees tied the game in the top of the ninth, but Bill Mazeroski’s legendary homer won the series for the Pirates in the bottom of the inning.

Shantz was picked by the Senators in the expansion draft that winter, but traded (ironically) to the Pirates two days later for three players. He pitched the whole 1961 season for Pittsburgh as a reliever and spot starter, then was selected again in the 1961 expansion draft by Houston. He lasted a little over a month with the Colts before being traded to the Cardinals.

In 1964, Shantz appeared in 50 games overall and had a 3.12 ERA. After his trade to the Cubs he struggled, so they sold him to the Phillies in August. He ended his career with 14 relief appearances in Philly.

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