Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Two Steve Rogers Autographed Cards

Of course, I wasn't just going to tease an Expos Numbers Project and let it remain idle; no, as the first post-announcement post, I decided to feature one of the three greatest Montréal Expos pitchers of all time, Steve Rogers.
Sure, Dennis Martinez had a perfect game, and Pedro Martinez won a Cy Young, but they were just as good in at least one other MLB city, whereas Rogers only played in Montréal, and merely had a contending team in front of him in 1981 and 1982, which coincided with some of his best years, though the five-time All-Star (1974, 1978, 1979, 1982 and 1983) was by far one of the few bright spots of those 70s teams.

Statistically, he may have deserved the Cy Young in 1982 when he went 19-8 with a league-leading 2.40 ERA and 4 shutouts. He led the National League with 5 shutouts in both 1979 and 1983, and in complete games with 14 in 1980.

In 393 career starts, he has completed an astounding 129, 37 of them shutouts.

Former manager Dick Williams wasn't too fond of Rogers, often falsely claiming he couldn't handle the pressure of big games, but his playoff statistics speak otherwise, with a 3-1 record overall, but mostly 2 decisive wins over the Philadelphia Phillies and their ace Steve Carlton in 1981, a one-run win and a 3-0 shutout to lead the Expos to the League Championship, in which his 4-1 win as a starter was another proof of his undeniable mastery of the mound; his lone loss, handing out a home run in relief on just two days' rest, remains a heartbreaker in the city's annals as one of the worst coaching decisions of all time, regardless of the sport.

And although I already have Michael Barrett penciled in for #45 of my Expos Numbers Project, Rogers will also take his rightful place in it with these two cards, the first of which, from Topps' 1983 Topps set (#320 in the collection), shows him in the team's red Spring Training garbs:
The second one shows him in the team's classic blue (away) uniform, from Donruss' 1985 Donruss set (with card #219):
Both cards were signed in person in blue sharpie, the Topps one in a charity event in 2013 (''Pitch And Catch Rally''), while the second was at Felipe Alou's induction in the Canadian Baseball Hall Of Fame last month.

When he became eligible for the Hall Of Fame in 1991, he didn't garner a single vote - not one! - and his candidacy was therefore revoked for subsequent years. That's despite a better career ERA than Nolan Ryan, and pitching more innings per season than Sandy Koufax. And completing roughly a third of his games.

I think he'd be in were it not for injuries; two to five extra years, even average ones, would have gotten him in on his fifth or sixth try.

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