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#6 AL Strikeout Leaders

11/03/2009

6 AL K Leaders6 AL K Leaders back

One in a series of 12 league leader cards that show the top three finishers in a variety of categories from the 1963 season, this is the least valuable (along with #2, which features the AL ERA leaders) of the group. Perhaps it shows what collectors think of Jim Bunning as a Hall of Famer that he’s on this card and it ain’t worth much. In fact, 11 of the 12 cards feature Hall of Famers (with #2 being the only one that doesn’t).

This is among my finest cards, condition-wise. Crisp corners, some print smudging on the front and back, and the typical off-center cut. Clearly an EX-MT though. The league leader cards command a premium, largely because they were somewhat ignored at the time because they weren’t as important as having a star’s “real” card, so fewer were kept. This one lists in SMR for $15 in NM condition.

Camilo Pascual had a nice run in the early ’60s. He led the AL in strikeouts for three straight years — with 1963 being the last of the three. He actually increased his K number from 202 to 213 in 1964, but Al Downing edged him out for the league lead with 217. Pascual is only pitcher on all three league leader cards for the AL — he was third in wins and ERA.

Jim Bunning finished second in 1963 with 196 strikeouts, despite a 12-13 record and below-average 3.88 ERA. It was his last year in the AL, as he was traded from the Tigers to the Phillies after the season. So, Bunning is shown in a Tigers cap on this card but is a Phillie on his regular-issue card from the set.

Dick Stigman, the pride of Nimrod, Minnesota, had an above-average year with 193 strikeouts and a 3.25 ERA, but all it got him was a 15-15 record.

Looking at the back, it’s clear that the AL wasn’t exactly brimming with star power at the time. There’s just four HOFers in the top 50 in strikeouts in 1963, with one of them being the questionable Bunning and another the aging Robin Roberts. Only Whitey Ford was a truly dominant pitcher at the time (well, Hoyt Wilhelm was dominant, but not a starter).

By the way, the NL was led in strikeouts by Sandy Koufax with 306, 104 more than Pascual.

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