We've set the dial on the "Way Back Machine" to the year 1971 for our newest vintage season for HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL Big League Baseball Game. If you're ready to make the trip, the 1971 Pro Season cards will get you there, NOW AVAILABLE! ...
As the 1971 season wound down, the most-contested divisional pennant race was that of the National West. On the first day of September, San Francisco led by 8 1/2 games. But Los Angeles' eight-game winning streak, five of them against SF, drew the Blue to within one game. Alas, LA's late drive fell just short, and San Francisco met Pittsburgh to vie for the league pennant. They held off a Pittsburgh rally to take game one 5-4 in front of a roaring home crowd, but the Bucs were not to be denied. Pittsburgh exploded for nine runs in games two and four, both wins, sandwiched around a tight 2-1 win in game three to take the series in four games.
The "junior league" pennant series each featured two dominant teams, Baltimore and Oakland, both of whom won over 100 games in easily crushing all competition to their respective divisional crowns. Baltimore featured four 20-game winners on the pitching staff, only team besides 1920A Chicago ever to do it. Oakland's pitching staff was nearly as impressive, led by its MVP and Cy Young Award winning ace (24-8, 1.83 ERA). In game one of the LCS, visiting Oakland jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning—but it turned out to be its only lead of the entire series, as the O's swept in three games.
That set the stage for a tense seven game '71 Fall Classic, won with character by Pittsburgh for its first championship since 1960. "The Great One," in the next-to-last season of a HOF career for the Bucs, blasted a fourth-inning solo homer, and "Pops" crossed the plate with what proved to be the game winning run on a eighth inning double in a 2-1 game seven win.
Aside from its epic Fall Classic, '71 was a year for landmark home runs, as several of big league baseball's HOF-bound power hitters cleared significant milestones. "Hammerin' Hank" hit his 600th on April 10, while Minnesota's "Killer" and Baltimore's "Judge" each hammered his 500th homer in '71.
For baseball historians, 1971 was a season of "firsts." For the first time ever, a fall classic game (game four, a 4-3 Pittsburgh win) was played at night. It was the first season for Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium. And the season featured a 20-inning shutout, won by Oakland 1-0 over Los Angeles, the first time a team had been shut out for that many innings in the same game. Parenthetically, it was also the first year that a majority of big league teams did NOT wear the classic wool flannel uniform, choosing lighter-weight synthetic materials instead. By 1973, no team would don flannel, ending an era in sports uniform history.
It was also the final season in Washington DC for the "Senators"—the second incarnation of the club announced a move to Dallas/Ft. Worth for the '72 season. In its final game in DC, leading New York 7-5 with two outs in the ninth, fans stormed the field—and Washington had to forfeit the game.
There were numerous memorable individual performances in '71. Among them, St. Louis' fiery third baseman batted .363 to win league MVP honors, Detroit's pitching star won 25 games and struck out over 300 batters, and New York's "Tom Terrific" recorded the lowest ERA in baseball, 1.76. Philadelphia's pitching phenom pulled of an amazing feat, tossing a no-hitter against Cincinnati and belting a pair of home runs to win the game 4-0! But perhaps no performance was more historic than what Montreal's tough-as-nails second baseman pulled off: he was "plunked" by opposing pitchers 50 times in 1971, an all-time record that will likely never be approached, much less broken! We've honored him with a special HMB "boutique" rating that reflects this achievement.
The 1971 Pro Season card set for HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL includes 24 individual player cards for each of big league baseball's 24 teams, almost 600 cards in all. An additional 100+ cards are available for free download, if you'd like to expand each team's roster to 30 players! Plus you get a set of 32 umpire cards, based on 1971's real-life umpire calls, and a suggested batting order sheet, a nostalgic baseball-lover's bargain for just $30 postage-paid! NOW AVAILABLE!