Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Short Term Stops, Pt. 7: Steve Carlton

1988 Fleer #7 Steve Carlton (Twins)

The final years of Steve Carlton's career are largely forgettable.

Judging from the picture on this card, you'd never know that this guy was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. By 1988, Carlton just looked old and worn out. This '88 Fleer issue is Carlton's final baseball card.

Not the best way to go out.

During his Hall-of-Fame career, Steve Carlton racked up 329 wins, 4,136 strikeouts, and ten All-Star selections. He also took home four Cy Young awards, including his magnificent 27-10 season (with a 1.97 ERA) in 1972 for a last-place Phillies team.

But by the time this card came out, Carlton was 43 years old and in the twilight of his career. In 1986, he played for the Phillies, Giants, and White Sox. In '87, he suited up for the Indians and the Twins.

1988 would be his final season. He'd close out his career in Minnesota, going 0-1 with a 16.76 ERA in 9 2/3 innings that year before being released in late April.

Until I got this card, I had no idea that Carlton even played for the Twins.

Perhaps it would've been better if it stayed that way.


hiflew said...

Carlton also "sort of" appeared in 1988 Topps. He was scheduled to be card #455, but Topps decided to not make a card of him since he had retired and replaced him with Dodgers rookie Shawn Hillegas. What they forgot to do was change the checklist at first. There are two versions of card #528, one with Carlton as #455 and one with Hillegas as #455.

I always found that to be an interesting story.

Carlton hung on too long, much like Tom Seaver around the same time, but I always liked him a lot more than Nolan Ryan.

Nick said...

Interesting story, never heard about that before. I would've liked to have seen Carlton make an appearance in '88 Topps.

I just wish that Seaver and Carlton could've played for my hometown White Sox during the prime of their careers, rather than at the ends of them.