Who is this player? Robin Yount, shortstop, Milwaukee Brewers Hall of Fame, Class of 1999 When the 1980 season began, most preseason publications expected the Milwaukee Brewers to contend. Amazingly, many of them did not devote a lot of ink discussing shortstop Robin Yount. While the Brewers may have not lived up to their billing, Yount took a big step forward in 1980, as he achived career highs in most offensive categories (since surpassed). He was selected to the American League All-Star team for the first time, won the Silver Slugger Award and led the league in doubles. When the season concluded, Yount was now firmly established as one of the top shortstops in all of baseball.
A baseball prodigy from William Howard Taft High School in Woodland Hills, CA, Robin Yount was the third overall selection by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1973 amatuer draft. After half a year in the minors, the 18-year old Yount was inserted into the Milwaukee lineup on Opening Day 1974 and remained there for the next 20 seasons. While major league stardom did not come immediately, he still set a record in 1975 for most games played in the major leagues as a teenager. Robin also created a small controversy in 1978 when he threatened to retire from the game and take up professional golf.
It was during the 1980s where Yount built his Hall of Fame career. In addition to leading all of baseball in base hits during the decade, Yount was also a two-time American League MVP (1982, 1989). He was one of the few power hitting shortstops in the history of baseball in the early part of the decade but a shoulder injury moved him to centerfield in 1985. He remains only one of four players to win the MVP at two different positions.
1982 was likely his most memorable year. In addition to being named a starter in the All-Star Game, Yount helped directly lead the Brewers to their only World Series appearance to date. He led the league in hits, doubles and slugging en route to a .331 29 114 season. Robin dramatically hit two homers off of future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer on the final day of the season to clinch the AL East and became the only player in history to have two 4-hit games in the World Series. Unfortunately, Milwaukee fell short in seven games.
As the 1990s opened, Yount was tabbed as likely to achieve 4000 hits. He reached 3000 in 1992 and retired the following year at the relative young age of 37. He retired as the team leader in nearly every offensive category. Yount was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999 in one of the most memorable classes of all-time (Nolan Ryan, George Brett). In retirement, he has served as coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Brewers and most recently released a lemonade drink, called Robinade.
Why I love this card The mention of Robin's brother Larry on the back of the card. It puzzled me for years since I tried to equate him with Jim Perry or Joe Niekro. If he was the brother of a major leaguer, my logic went, then he must have a card or at least have done something notable. Turns out Larry Yount did. He was injured warming up on September 15, 1971. Since he was announced, he entered the game, but did not throw a major league pitch. He was never recalled to the majors after that so he is listed with 1 game played but no batters faced.
Something else.... Apparently, William Howard Taft High has some notable alumni. Other than Yount, the school was also home to Ice Cube, Bailey from WKRP, Phoebe from Friends, the voice of Handy Manny, and Jenny from Forrest Gump.
On this date in 1980: As Spring Training came to a close, the Milwaukee Brewers released catcher Ray Fosse. The 32-year old Fosse had been trying to stay in the majors as a backup catcher but instead, his star-crossed career came to an end.
This blog is inspired by several influences; first, the other blogs dedicated to a single season of Topps sets and the folks at http://www.deanscards.com/, who provide a great resource of all years of cards (and from whom I stole the awesome header).
Mainly though, this blog is inspired by my Dad who during the summer of 1980, fully introduced me to the great game of baseball through these cards. Every one of these cards is somehow connected to a memory of that time.