Saturday, December 05, 2009

#232 Steve Blass

#232 Steve Blass
Here is the second of two slabbed and graded cards that I own for this set. Steve actually traded me a loose version of this Steve Blass card, but I later acquired this slabbed copy in a separate trade with reader Michael Flaherty. I was then working out a trade with Kris Shepard, who needed the Blass, so I flipped the loose one to him. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Fun facts about Steve Blass:

-Steve grew up in Canaan, CT and was a stud pitcher in high school; the Pirates signed him in 1960.

-Won 42 games in three full minor league seasons (1961-1963) to earn a promotion to Pittsburgh in 1964. This string included a 17-3, 1.97 ERA performance at Class B Kinston in 1962; he would be inducted into the Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.

-Had a decent rookie season, going 5-8 with a 4.04 ERA while shuttling between the bullpen and rotation.

-After spending all of 1965 in the minors, Steve returned in 1966 and put together two more solid but unspectacular seasons before breaking out in 1968: he went 18-6 to lead the N.L. in winning percentage (.750) with a career-best 2.12 ERA. He also reached personal highs with 12 complete games and seven shutouts.

-After falling back to 16-10, 4.46 and 10-12, 3.52 in the next two seasons, Blass had a very memorable year in 1971. He went 15-8 with a 2.49 ERA and a league-leading five shutouts for the National League Champion Pirates.

-He dominated the Orioles in the World Series, earning two complete-game wins, including the decisive seventh game. In eighteen innings, he allowed just two runs on seven total hits. Of course, Roberto Clemente hit .414 and slugged .759 to wrest away the MVP honors.

-Steve was even better in 1972, going to his only All-Star Game and finishing second behind only Steve Carlton for Cy Young honors. His record was 19-8 with a 2.49 ERA. However, his strikeout-to-walk ratio dropped to career-worst 1.39, which probably went unnoticed at the time but was a troubling sign of things to come.

-Blass inexplicably fell apart at age 31, going 3-9 with a 9.85 ERA a year after being voted second-best pitcher in the league. His control abandoned him; he hit an N.L.-high 12 batters in just 88 innings, and walked 84 batters while striking out only 27. He spent all but one game of the 1974 season in AAA, trying to regain his form. He was even worse, issuing 103 free passes in 61 innings. When things looked no better the following spring, he retired. In nine seasons (plus one game in 1974), Steve was 103-76 with a 3.63 ERA and 57 complete games.

-He has been a radio announcer for Pirates games since 1986.

-Though the term "Steve Blass Disease" has become part of the baseball vernacular, used to describe physically healthy pitchers who inexplicably lose their pitching mechanics, Steve has had success in at least one other sport. Last September, he shot two holes-in-one in a single round of golf!
#232 Steve Blass (back)


  1. Give our Beckett site a look. We are uploading over 500 1965 Topps cards including high #'s and SP's in various grades. We don't do a ton of trading but if we have duplicates of a card and you have older Tigers or Yankees we can maybe work something out. email

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  3. And why didn't he forget how to pitch during the stinking 1971 World Series?