The Base Thieves Page!
T206 Ty Cobb (Bat off shoulder) 1962 Topps #367 Lou Brock RC
Oh what I would give for a fresh pair of legs- I can't even run 5 feet in softball without pulling some major muscle group. On this page we present some of baseball's great base
stealer's. A stolen base can change the game; you can advance to scoring position without having to sacrifice an out, and a fast runner can score much more easily than say, one
of the Giambi brothers. Here are some players with a "NEED FOR SPEED!!!"
1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson RC
One of the premier lead-off men in baseball history, Rickey Henderson. Henderson will soon be in the Hall of Fame, not
only because of the 1,406 career stolen bases, but he is also a member of the 3,000 hit club (3,055). Very impressive are his
averages; if you were to average Henderson's career (162 games) he would have averaged .279 with 121 runs, 161 hits
(incl. 27 doubles and 16 home runs), 74 stolen bases, 115 bases on balls, and a .401 on base %. That's pretty impressive. In
his prime Rickey was a feared player and when he got on base look out. I remember one playoffs (I think it was Oakland vs.
Toronto) and Rickey just went nuts on the bases. He just kept stealing bases. The Toronto catcher was beside himself. The one
thing that kind of hurt Rickey was that he was not shy about his accomplishments and he did come off as kind of a punk. For
instance, when he broke Lou Brock's stolen base mark he declared himself "The Greatest." Unfortunately for Henderson, his
record was overshadowed by Nolan Ryan that same day when The Express threw his record 7th no-hitter. Henderson's
comments were disregarded as brash or cocky, but they were true. He was and is the all-time leader in stolen bases.
Muhammad Ali also declared he was "The Greatest" and he backed it up. Rickey was the same. This is Henderson's first
baseball card, from the 1980 Topps baseball set.
Congratulations to Rickey Henderson for being elected to Baseball's Hall Of Fame (2009)
1976 Topps #10 Lou Brock
1975 O-Pee-Chee # Herb Washington
1972 Topps #50 Willie Mays In Action
1963 Fleer #43 Maury Wills
1956 Topps #292 Luis Aparicio RC
Lou Brock was the first modern player to break Ty Cobb's all-time stolen base mark of 892. Brock stole 938 in
his career and is also a member of the 3,000 hit club. Brock was originally with the Chicago Cubs, was traded to
the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio and went on to become a Hall of Famer. Brock played his entire career with St. Louis
and was an important part of their championship teams in 1965 & 1967. In the 1965 World Series, he batted
.300 with 9 hits, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 2 runs, and 5 RBIs. In 1967 Brock led the Cards in that Series with a .414
batting average, 12 hits, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, 8 runs, and 3 batted in. He also stole 7 bases. Brock had an
even BETTER World Series in 1968 when he batted .464 with 13 hits, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HRs, 6 runs, and 5
RBIs. Again he stole 7 bases in that series, but the Cards lost to the Tigers in 7 games. Brock was at the game
where Henderson broke his stolen base record and was a class act. This 1976 Topps baseball card depicts Brock
about to take off in flight.
This is the ONLY baseball card to feature a "Pinch Runner." Herb Washington was hired by Oakland A's owner Charles
Finley to be a designated runner, period. In 1974 Washington appeared in 91 games without a plate appearance. He scored
29 runs and stole 28 bases. However the gamble backfired on Finley. In the 1974 World Series, Washington, on again as a
pinch runner, was picked off in the 9th inning. He only appeared in 13 games in 1975, scoring 4 and stealing 2. But Herb
Washington is forever immortalized as a "pinch runner" on this 1975 classic baseball card.
One of the few players who could do it all (hit, field, throw, run), Willie Mays was no slouch when it came to stealing
bases. Mays led the National League in stolen bases 4 consecutive years (1956-59), with a high of 40 in 1956. In his
career, Mays stole 338 bases and could have stolen much more if not for 660 home runs. Mays probably figured "hey I
won't have to run so hard if I just put the ball over the fence." And more often than not, he did. This is a cool action shot of
Mays sliding into what appears to be third base. He would have been 40 years old when this picture was taken. This
card is the last card of "The Say Hey Kid" pictured in a Giants uniform. Mays is pictured on his last card (1973 Topps
#305) as a New York Met.
How good was Maury Wills? Well in 1962, fellow Dodger Tommy Davis won the NL Batting Title (.346),
led the NL in hits (230), RBIs (153) AND walloped 27 home runs for good measure. Yet Davis did NOT win
the NL MVP award. That award was given to Maury Wills. Wills broke Ty Cobb's 1915 stolen base mark of
96. He stole 104 bases in '62, batted a respectable .299 with 208 hits, 10 triples (led NL), and 130 runs.
At the time of his retirement, Wills was 10th All-Time is stolen bases with 586. Keep in mind he only played
14 seasons. Wills started his major league career with the Dodgers in 1959 but did not appear on a Topps
baseball card until 1967 (1967 Topps #570). The reason was because Topps left Wills off their list when he
was in the minor leagues and Wills didn't forget it. He didn't sign a Topps contract until 1967. So if you want
an early Maury Wills card, you either have to get a Bell Brand Los Angeles Dodgers, Post cereal, Jell-O, or this
1963 Fleer baseball card; one of the few major baseball issues while Topps had a monopoly on the baseball
Venezuelan born Luis Ernesto Aparicio ("Little Looie") played in the big leagues from 1956 to 1973, mostly with the Chicago White Sox. A consistent .262 hitter throughout his career, Aparicio had nearly 2,700 lifetime hits
(2,677). He was also a crafty base stealer, leading the American League during his first 9 seasons! 4 times he stole over 50 bases, including a career high 57 in 1964. Aparicio finished his career with 506 steals, modest by
today's standards but keep in mind Aparicio played in an era where stolen bases were just not that prevalent. Luis Aparicio was elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1984 and deservedly so. This is his rookie card from the
1956 Topps set.
1973 Kellogg's # Cesar Cedeno
A guy you don't hear much about was Cesar Cedeno (born Cesar Cedeno y Encarnacion), who played from 1970-1986,
mostly with the Houston Astros. Cedeno could do it all, hit for average (hit .320 in back-to-back seasons, 1972-73), hit for
some power (22, 25, 26 HRs from 1972-74), and run. From 1971 to 1980, he stole no less than 20 bases, and during one
stretch stole 50 or more bases in six consecutive seasons (including a career high 61 in 1977). Not a Hall of Famer, but a
very good player nonetheless and early in his career he was thought to be the next coming of the great Willie Mays. Not very
fair, but Cedeno had a very nice career despite coming up about 460 HRs short of the great Mays (Cedeno hit 199 career
dingers compared to Mays' 660). Cedeno hit .285 lifetime with 2,087 hits, 976 RBIs, and 550 stolen bases. Another terrific
player from the Dominican Republic.
Kellogg's cereal issued baseball cards from 1970 up through the 1980's. Most of the time they are called "3-D" cards but in
1973 Kellogg's chose to produce regular style cards. It was the only year they did so, so I guess they were just not as popular
as the 3-D cards. This translates to bargains for card collectors. Major Hall of Famers and stars from this set can be had for a
few bucks each and you can still find them in high grade.
1976 O-Pee-Chee #4 Dave Lopes RB
Another prolific base stealer you don't hear much about (unless you are a Dodger fan) is Dave "Davey" Lopes. Lopes
was part of that great Dodger infield of the 1970's (Garvey, Lopes, Russell, Cey) and was the spark plug of that team.
Lopes stole 557 career bases, including leading the National League in thefts in both 1975 (77) and 1976 (63). He
was third all-time in World Series stolen bases but that record may or may not have been broken. He stole 10 bases in 4
World Series (1974, 1977, 1978, 1981). Last season (2006) I saw Lopes coaching first base for the Washington
Nationals (I think it was). Good to see him at Dodger Stadium, but wrong uniform! The Dodgers should have retained him
in some capacity. But keep in mind they had another great base stealer, Maury Wills, who still works with the Dodgers
and helps develop base stealing skills with new players. One of Wills' pupils was Dave Roberts who stole a crucial base
for the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 A.L. Championship Game vs. the New York Yankees. That stolen base ignited the
Bosox and they went on to come from behind, beat the hated Yankees, and go on to the World Series (which of course
they won). Anyway, back to Lopes. I can't remember a steadier second baseman that the Dodgers have had since, and
they have had quite a few since Lopes left the Dodgers after the 1981 season. This 1976 O-Pee-Chee (Topps counterpart
in Canada) card features Lopes 38 consecutive stolen bases in 1975.
1974 Topps #85 Joe Morgan
Another base stealer was the great Joe Morgan of the Colt 45's (and later, Houston Astros), and the Big Red Machine. Morgan could do it all, hit for average (.327 in 1975), hit for power (26 HRs in 1973), drive in runs
(111 RBI's in 1976, although he didn't need to with guys like Johnny Bench and Tony Perez batting behind him), score runs (122 in 1972), and steal bases. Morgan stole 689 bases in his career including a career high 67 in
1973 & 1975. Over a 162 game schedule Morgan averaged 42 stolen bases per season, while scoring 101 runs. This is for a career average! Joe Morgan won back-to-back Most Valuable Player Awards in 1975-76 with
a team that had Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, and Pete Rose! So this 5 foot, 7 inch second baseman was quite a player! Morgan was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1990.
The 1974 Topps baseball set was the first to be issued at one time. In other words, you could buy a factory set or buy packs of cards and all the card numbers were available. The cards were no longer issued in series
throughout the year so 1974 was the first year of no high numbers. A real bargain today, 1974 Topps cards, including Hall Of Famers and stars are extremely affordable today. Most of the major stars can be had in NM
condition for $6-$25. Included in the set was card #1 Hank Aaron (All-Time Home Run King), Pete Rose, Reggie Jackson, Nolan Ryan, Yaz, Johnny Bench, Fisk, Seaver, etc. along with rookie cards of Dave Parker and Dave
Winfield. This 1974 Topps #85 Joe Morgan is a steal at $6!!!
1953 Bowman Color #3 Sam Jethroe
Here is a player you may not have heard of, Sam "Jet" Jethroe. Sam's misfortune was being a black ballplayer when blacks were not allowed in Major League Baseball. He was a Negro League star and by the time he
reached the Major Leagues he was already 32 years old. However Jethroe made the most of his time. In his rookie season (1950) with the Boston Braves, Jethroe scored 100 runs, made 160 hits (including 29 doubles, 8
triples, 18 home runs), drove in 58 runs, stole 35 bases (led National League) and batted .273. For his efforts, Sam Jethroe was named "Rookie Of The Year" at the age of 32. The following season Jethroe had almost
identical numbers, but upped his RBI (65) and batting average (.280) and led the league again with 35 steals. In 1952, his batting average dropped but he still managed to steal 28 bases. He was 34 years old! Jethroe had
only 1 more at bat in 1953 and was finished in baseball. Why? I don't know but here is what Sam Jethroe averaged over a 162 game schedule: .261 batting average, 103 runs, 169 hits, 29 doubles, 9 triples, 18 HRs, 66
RBIs, 36 steals, 65 bases on balls. Not bat for an "old man." In his entire career, which essentially was just 3 seasons, Jethroe stole nearly 100 bases (98)! Sam Jethroe died on June 18, 2001 but we remember him on our
"Base Thieves" page.
The 1953 Bowman Color baseball cards are considered true "classics" today. Bowman used beautiful Kodachrome photography and the '53 set was probably it's finest effort. This 1953 Bowman #3 Sam Jethroe
baseball card was his last card as an active player.
More Speed Demons coming soon! Check back soon! Questions? Comments? Please send me an email care of Tim @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
1981 Topps #816 Traded Tim Raines
Tim Raines led the National League in stolen bases his first 4 full seasons in the big leagues. In his rookie year (1981) he swiped 71 bases in only 88 games (remember '81 was a strike shortened season). Over the next
three seasons, Raines posted 78, 90, and 75 steals. Over the course of his career, Raines would average 52 steals a season while batting .294 (per 162 game schedule). He also had 2605 hits and scored 1571 runs. His
career total of 808 stolen bases is 5th All Time!
Technically, this is not Tim Raines Topps rookie card as he was included in the regular Topps set that year. For the first time, Topps issued a separate box set of "Traded" cards. These cards featured new trades, free agents,
rookies and more. This 1981 Topps Traded #816 Tim Raines is his first Topps card to picture him all by himself. His Topps rookie card is 1981 Topps #479 Expos Future Stars with Raines and two other players. 1981
was the first year that Donruss and Fleer began regularly producing baseball cards so there are Tim Raines rookie cards included in both those sets as well.
1947 Bond Bread Jackie Robinson (Sliding photo)
Jackie Robinson brought a new level of excitement to baseball. Not only was he a terrific hitter, Robinson could run and he created chaos on the field. Robinson would take an extra base (or bases), steal a base, anything to
score and ultimately win the game. In that first historic season (1947), Jackie Robinson took home the NL Rookie of the Year honors. He batted a respectable .297, had 175 base hits and led the league with 29 base thefts.
Two years later (1949) he again led the NL in stolen bases with 37. Lifetime, Robinson had 197 steals; not on the top 10 list by any means, but you have to keep in mind that most of Robinson's prime years were in the
Negro Leagues. He was 28 years old when he became the first African American to play in the major leagues. And he played only 10 seasons. Even so, Robinson averaged 23 steals a season (162 game schedule); not bad
at all when you consider he played from age 28 to 37. One of the most exciting plays ever caught on film is Robinson's stealing home during Game 1 of the 1955 World Series (you can view the video at Youtube.com). At
the time, the Dodgers were down 6-4 to the rival New York Yankees. Of course the Dodgers were to win that Series, their first and last in Brooklyn. One of the All-Time Greats, Jackie Robinson.
Being that Jackie Robinson had such a short career, there are really not that many vintage baseball cards of him. Topps, the major producer of bubble gum cards at the time issued cards of Jackie every year from 1952-1956.
Bowman Gum also issued cards of Robinson in 1949 and 1950. His rookie card is considered the 1948-49 Leaf #79 and 1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson. But there are some cards that actually pre-date those rookie cards.
Notably the 1947 Bond Bread Jackie Robinson cards (see above example) and also the 1948 Swell Sports Thrills card (Dramatic Debut) which highlights Robinson's 1947 NL Rookie of the Year season.
Exhibit Supply Card Bob Dillinger
1933 Delong Gum #17 Pepper Martin
1951 Berk Ross Jerry Coleman Dom DiMaggio 2-card panel
In 1951 Berk Ross of New York created 2-card panels featuring "Hit Parade Of Champions." These card mostly depicted baseball players ranging from the World Champion Yankees, NL Champion
Phillies, batting, home run and stolen base leaders. Also featured were other Champions in the world of sport including basketball, football, boxing, figure skating, golf, and track. The cards were intended to
be pulled apart at the perforations as "singles," but you can still find intact 2-card panels as issued. These are generally much more affordable than Bowman Gum and Topps cards from the same period.
What's really cool about them is the Berk Ross set featured Joe DiMaggio in both their '51 & 1952 set, while Bowman and Topps did not. Ted Williams also appeared in the 1952 Berk Ross set but was not
included in the Bowman or Topps sets that year.
This 1951 Berk Ross 2-card panel features Yankees second baseman Jerry Coleman (of the 1950 World CHAMPION New York Yankees) and Dominic DiMaggio who was the American League
Stolen Base CHAMPION. TRIVIA: How many stolen bases did Dom DiMaggio have in 1950 to lead the A.L.? Scroll to the bottom of this page for the answer.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Dom DiMaggio led the A.L. with just 15 stolen bases in 1950! How times have changed.
| 1977 Topps #435 Turn Back The Clock 1962 - Wills Records 104 Stolen Bases
|With the exception of his rare Minor League issues, his "rookie card" (1963 Fleer #43; pictured near the top of this page), 1967 Topps (High number), and 1971 Topps Greatest Moments cards, Maury Wills cards are
very inexpensive. Most of his regular Topps cards can be had for a couple bucks. No kidding. And this guy should be in the Hall of Fame! What a shame he isn't. However we have enshrined Maury Wills in our very own
NOWBATTING's HALL OF FAME Page. Check it out!
In 1977 Topps included a special "Turn Back The Clock" subset in it's set of cards. Card number 435 highlights Wills' 104 steals in 1962. You can get this card for less than $1 in ungraded condition. Wills last cards as
an active player are 1972 Topps #437 and #438 (In Action).