Today’s Card of the Day is from the 1982 Topps set and it features two Pittsburgh Pirates. For a few years in the early 1980s, Topps had a card for each team that had a checklist on the back and the team leaders in batting average and ERA on the front. The 1982 cards featured the 1981 team leaders. For the Pirates that year, Bill Madlock led the team in average and Eddie Solomon led the team in ERA.
Here’s the front of the card:
As you can see from the card, Madlock had a .341 average during the strike-shortened 1981 season. What the card doesn’t tell you is that he won his third batting title that season. He would add a fourth batting title two years later. Madlock also made the front of the 1983 and 1984 Topps Pirates team leader cards.
Eddie Solomon is listed as Buddy Solomon on some of his cards. Eddie was his real first name, while Buddy was his nickname. Sadly, “was” is the correct term there, as Solomon passed away at age 34 in a car accident just a few years after this card was released.
In the shortened 1981 season (103 games for the Pirates), Topps probably had a cutoff of at least one inning per team game to qualify as the ERA leader. Solomon had a 3.12 mark in 127 innings, while Jim Bibby put up a 2.50 ERA in 93.2 innings. Kent Tekulve had a 2.49 ERA in 65 innings.
Here’s the back of the card:
As you can see from the back, this was card #696 and the Pirates had a total of 27 cards in the set. What is interesting to note about the team checklist, which is in alphabetical order, is that it doesn’t include every card for the Pirates. Obviously the team leader card itself would put 28 cards in the set, but the 1982 Topps set also featured “In Action” cards of Dave Parker and Willie Stargell, as well as an All-Star card of Parker. There is also a Pirates Rookies card featuring Johnny Ray, Vance Law and Bob Long. So if you wanted the full 1982 Topps Pirates team set, it would consist of 32 cards.
Here are the previous Card of the Day articles. Eventually we will have a better way to organize them once we launch Pittsburgh Baseball History, as opposed to just a continuously growing list at the bottom of each article:
1887 N172 Sam Barkley (guest submission)
1998 Topps Jose Guillen (guest submission)
1931 W517 Paul Waner (guest submission)
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.