Tag Archives: 1978

Inside the SP78 Vault: McDonald’s Baseball Quiz

It was a summer evening in 1978, perhaps on a calendar day close to where I am right now in my SP78 season, and my parents had taken my brother, sister, and I out to dinner at our local McDonald’s in Escondido, California. Their current promotion, apparently available only at Southern California restaurants, featured a baseball quiz card given to customers with every Big Mac purchase; the prize was a free Big Mac to fans who answered the multiple-choice quiz question correctly. As you can see, I did just that, during the drive home after leaving the restaurant:

And it wasn’t guesswork, either: I actually knew the answer to the question, without the luxury of on-line stats, scores, and game recaps instantly available at my fingertips. Instead, I studied the daily sports pages and the annual Street & Smith baseball guides, and I watched ABC’s Monday Night Baseball and the NBC Game of the Week on Saturdays, and went to Padres games at San Diego Stadium whenever I could. I actually cared about baseball back then, which made answering this question a cinch.

And as you’ve noticed, I kept this particular game card, which means I did not get myself a free Big Mac on my next visit to McDonald’s that summer. But that’s okay…I’m glad I still own this rare piece of baseball memorabilia, since that Big Mac would’ve been long gone and forgotten by now. I tried to find another quiz card like this one on-line, but even eBay doesn’t have one to offer, so maybe mine has some real value to it. Or maybe it’s worth nothing more than a Big Mac…just as long as I redeem it before October 8, 1978.

Plus-.500 July Gives Jays Something to Celebrate

It’s been a long season for the second-year Toronto Blue Jays, who’ve struggled for wins after opening the SP78 campaign with a promising 4-1 won-lost record. Currently, however, they’re a woeful 43-60, the second-worst record in the American League, and good for last place in the AL East. And with no hope of capturing a division crown, the Jays of ’78 can only play out the string, acting as possible spoilers to the Tigers, Brewers, and Yankees and looking ahead to 1979. With nothing to boast overall but Bob Bailor’s current .308 average and John Mayberry’s 16 home runs, the Blue Jays can at least be proud of their hard work in July, which netted them not only their first winning month of the season, at 15-13, but the first of their short existence as well.

Leading the way in July was third baseman Roy Howell, who batted .355 with 38 hits, outfielder Bailor, who went 36-for-107 and hit .336, and utility player Doug Ault, who banged four home runs in just 13 games, good for 11 RBI. And though starting pitchers Tom Underwood and Jim Clancy both went 1-4 for the month, Jesse Jefferson surprised everyone with a 4-1 mark and a 2.87 earned run average, while spot starter Jerry Garvin finished the month with three wins, three complete games, and a 2.48 ERA. In the bullpen, closer Victor Cruz continues to impress, saving four games and leading the team with a 1.13 ERA; middle reliever Joe Coleman was also a surprise, going 2-0 with an ERA of 1.59 in seven games. And kudos should also go to Rick Bosetti, who with a base stealing rating of D stole Toronto’s only base of the month, and just the fifth for the team this season.

To take a look at the Blue Jays team page for results and statistics through July, click here. The boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been left blank; these numbers will now be added to each AL team throughout the coming weeks, and award winners for July will be posted soon.

Hot July Puts Rangers on Track for First AL Flag

Of all the teams currently in contention for a division crown, I’d say the Texas Rangers are the most surprising of the bunch; their superb 20-9 record in July has them sitting comfortably in first place in the AL West, five games ahead of the defending AL champion Royals, and 6½ ahead of the Twins. The Rangers have yet to have a losing month, and their current mark of 64-41 is well ahead of last season’s pace, one that gave the ’77 squad a final record of 94-68, the best in the team’s short six-year history in Texas.

Everything seems to be going right for the Rangers this season, with four batters—Bump Wills, Al Oliver, Juan Beniquez, and Johnny Grubb—hitting over .300, starting pitchers Jon Matlack (16-3) and Fergie Jenkins (14-6) rolling towards twenty wins, and three relievers—Reggie Cleveland, Steve Comer, and Danny Darwin—sporting ERA’s under 2.00. The team leads the AL in stolen bases, with 148, and Wills is third with 54, behind Seattle’s Julio Cruz and Detroit’s Ron LeFlore. In July, Wills was the team’s leading batter, with 40 hits, 23 runs scored, and a .364 batting average, but an argument could be made for Grubb, who in just 18 games went 38-for-73, good for a robust .521. And though Matlack and Jenkins were no surprise with 4-1 won-lost marks for the month, Doc Medich stunned everyone with a 4-1 mark of his own, a 1.86 ERA, and three complete games in five starts.

To take a look at the Rangers team page for statistics through July, click here. The boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been left blank; these numbers will be added after all AL team statistics have been finalized, and July award winners have been picked.

11-17 July Drops M’s Further From AL West Race

It’s hard to believe the second-year Seattle Mariners were 31-21 after the first two months of the SP78 campaign, and had reeled off a 16-game winning streak in May, the longest yet by any team this season. Now, after an injury had knocked the team’s offensive leader, outfielder Tom Paciorek, out of action for thirty days, the M’s have fallen on hard times, dropping to 48-59 by the end of July and drifting back and forth between fourth and sixth place in the AL West. And though Paciorek has returned to the active roster, the Mariner magic seems to have dissipated, leaving the Emerald City squad gasping for life in a tough division already stocked with superior teams.

Keeping in mind that, due to his injury, Paciorek has played in only 67 of Seattle’s 107 games, he leads the team with a .327 average (he and Julio Cruz, at .316, are the only M’s currently hitting over .300); he also led the squad in average for July, with an impressive .355 mark. At this point in the season, Leon Roberts would take team MVP honors, with a .299 average, 21 doubles, 22 home runs, and 69 RBI. And of course, Cruz is still grabbing headlines with his pursuit of both the AL and major league stolen base record; by the end of July, he was just 22 away from Ty Cobb’s AL record of 96. But Seattle’s pitching has been nothing but trouble, and with no pitchers—starters or relievers—with a PB higher than 2-6, it doesn’t look to get any better over the next two months.

To check out the Mariners team page for results and statistics through July, click here. The boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been left blank; these numbers will be added after all AL team statistics have been finalized, and July award winners have been picked.

Stumbling A’s Not Living Up to Potential in July

Earlier in the season, if I’d been asked to choose a team that I thought was a dark horse contender to capture a division flag, it would’ve been the Oakland A’s of the AL West. Based on the numbers on their player cards, the A’s looked unbeatable: a trio of starters with PB levels of 2-7 (Matt Keough, Alan Wirth, and John Johnson), another three 2-7’s in the bullpen (Dave Heaverlo, Elias Sosa, and Bob Lacey), a squad that consisted of five A and B base stealers, and batting numbers for the starting nine that looked much better than their current fourth place, 51-55 record would indicate. But now, I’m not so confident with my prediction, and the A’s didn’t help themselves much in July by going 12-16, and suffering through a 6-game losing streak in the process.

On a positive note, Mike Edwards, Mitchell Page, Glenn Burke, and rookie call-up Dell Alston all hit over .300 for the month, with Burke leading the way at .337; all four are currently hitting better than .300 for the season, the only Oakland players to do so. Edwards also went 19-1 for the month in stolen base attempts, bringing his SB total to 52, and his steals of second, third, and home in one inning on July 27th was an SP78 first. Slugging DH Rico Carty has 22 home runs on the year, second only to Angels DH Don Baylor’s 30, and the team’s total of 124 stolen bases is third best in the AL. So why are the A’s struggling? Look no further than their pitching staff: starter Keough went 0-5 with a 5.27 earned run average in July, while Pete Broberg went 0-4 with a 7.78 ERA, earning himself a demotion to Vancouver. In addition, three relievers—Steve Renko, Mike Norris, and Craig Minetto—were all saddled with ERA’s over 7.00.

To take a look at the A’s team page and numbers through July, click here. The boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been left blank; these numbers will be added after all AL team statistics have been finalized, and July award winners have been picked.