#182 Sox Sockers
One of the main reasons I started collecting the 1964 set last year is because I happened to acquire several cards from the set when I was a kid in the 1980s. This is one of those cards. “Sox Sockers” is one of a number of special combo cards that Topps produced in ’64 that pictured two or more players together. Some of these are great (like the “Tops in NL” card with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron) and some are completely inexplicable (like “Bill’s Got It” which features Pirates Danny Murtagh and Bill Virdon just standing around). This card features two young Red Sox hopefuls whose careers would take much different paths.
This card lists for about $25 in NM condition. Mine is probably something in the VG-EX range because of the fading on the back and some wax stains on the front (clearly this was the top card in the wax pack it came from).
By 1964, Carl Yastrzemski was a budding star, and led the AL in batting average (.321), OBP (.428), hits (183), doubles (40) and walks (95) in 1963 — his third full season. He wasn’t a big “run producer” yet, as he tallied just 14 home runs and 68 RBI. Yaz also won his first of seven gold gloves in 1963. We now know, of course, that he would go on to be one of the great players ever, ranking sixth on the all-time hits list with 3,419.
Chuck Schilling also made waves when he debuted with the Red Sox in 1961. In fact, he was named the team’s MVP that season as a rookie, and finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting (Yasztrzemski got no votes). That was mostly based on his fielding at second base, where he made just eight errors in 846 chances. That’s how he got away with posting a .666 OPS in 738 plate appearances (in his defense, he did have a .340 OBP, higher than Yaz’s .324).
But then things went really wrong for Schilling. He hurt his wrist in 1962 and his offense went even more in the tank. After a lackluster 1963 season he lost his starting job. He played in just 47 games in 1964 and 71 in ’65 and never played pro baseball again.
Schilling retired at the age of 27, while Yastrzemski played until he was 43.