Card of the Day: 1976 Topps Batting Leaders, Featuring Bill Madlock and Manny Sanguillen

Today’s Card of the Day features Manny Sanguillen, catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates for 12 seasons, who turns 79 years old today. Just before looking at card options, I literally had an internal thought that said “Last time Sanguillen was in our Card of the Day series, he was with another player, so this one has to be a solo card”. I’m sure you saw the title first. This clearly isn’t a solo Sanguillen card. Not only is Bill Madlock pictured on the card, Hall of Famer Ted Simmons joins along too.

I promise you my intention was to use a Sanguillen solo card. I even saw one I wanted to use, but the Ebay scan wasn’t good enough to use, so I kept scrolling. That’s how I landed on this card. It’s from the 1976 Topps set. It features the batting leaders from the 1975 season. Once I saw Madlock on the card, I knew I had to use it. The added Hall of Famer was just a bonus, plus Simmons was very briefly the GM of the Pirates, so he has a connection. If the front of this card didn’t convince me, the back most certainly would have done the job.

Here’s the front of the card:

First thing I’ll say is the design and layout of this card is hideous. The color usage here is just completely random. It’s also odd that they felt the need to abbreviate St Louis, but they wrote out the longer Pittsburgh Pirates. I guess I can appreciate them choosing to write out the entire name of the better team. That generic batter in the bottom middle looks like he should be on the home run leader card (he actually is).

This card choice was made for Sanguillen’s day, but this card shows how Madlock ran away with the 1975 batting title. Neither runner-up was close. This was the first of four batting titles for Madlock. Simmons set a career high for average that year. He never won a batting title, and he never finished higher than sixth in any other season (though he had six top ten finishes). The was a high mark for average with Sanguillen, but he did manage to finish third during the 1970 season as well. He hit .325 that year.

If the centering here for the photos looks a bit odd, it’s because the card was miscut, which is easier to see on the back…

Here’s the back of the card:

You can really see the left-to-right miscut here on the card. I actually cropped a little strip from the left side off, so it was miscut even more than what you see here. That’s okay because look at this back! Okay, don’t look to close, you’ll be blind by the time you get to 1975. This card lists every National League batting champ since 1901. I mentioned the Hall of Famer on the front, but the back lists 21 Hall of Famers. That list includes Pirates royalty in Honus Wagner, Paul Waner, Arky Vaughan and Roberto Clemente. You also have Ginger Beaumont, Deb Garms, Dick Groat and Matty Alou representing the Pirates. Also an honorary mention to Chuck Klein, who is in the Hall of Fame and he played briefly for the Pirates.

If you are interested in this card, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out that you have multiple options around $3 delivered. I thought someone might have a copy autographed by 1-3 of the players, but there were none, even among three months of sold cards on Ebay. You can get a PSA 8 of this card for $40, but I have to mention that one just ended for $20. There’s also a PSA 9 on Ebay right now for $155 or best offer. Population of cards in high grades matters for pricing, so take this comparison with a grain of salt, since I didn’t check the population reports. A PSA 9 of the National League Home Run leaders recently sold for $75. Mike Schmidt is on that card. He would be a more popular Hall of Famer for cards than Simmons.