Thursday, December 15, 2011

1977 Topps #8 Leading Fireman

Beginning in the year 1960, The Sporting News magazine awarded its annual TSN Fireman of the Year award to the top closer in each league. And while it was the first award to officially recognize relievers as a specific class of players, the voting was based solely upon subjective criteria-unlike its counterpart, MLB's Rolaids Relief Award, which was based upon a points system. The Fireman of the Year Award was a tradition that continued for 41 years, until the name was changed to Reliever of the Year, which allowed all relievers to be eligible. I personally think they should have stuck with the original name. Looking at the Reliever of the Year winners from 2001-2011, I do not see any one that wasn't a closer the year in which he won.

After having his best major league season in 1976, in which he went 11-5 with a 2.06 ERA and 26 saves, Eastwick began the 1977 season in Cincinnati-appearing in 23 games. Eastwick, however, became embroiled in a contract dispute with the front office and was traded in June to St. Louis. Rawly struggled in his only season in St. Louis, and spent the next season in New York (Yankees) and Philadelphia.

Bill Campbell appeared in a league high 78 games for Minnesota during the 1976 season. While he only had 20 saves that year, he did put up 17 wins for the Twins (not to mention a league high .773 winning percentage). Then, prior to the 1977 season, Soup signed with the Red Sox as a free agent-where he actually had a better season than the one he had for the Twins. Campbell would win his second straight (and final) Fireman of the Year Award in 1977, while earning his only All Star appearance.

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