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Baseball Card Hall of Fame

Steve Carlton 1969 #255

by William Szczepanek

1969 Topps Steve Carlton #255Steve Carlton pitched for 24 years predominantly for the St Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies with brief stints with San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins at the end of his illustrious career. He is ranked right up there with Sandy Koufax, Warren Spahn and Randy Johnson as one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in history.  Over those years the 10-time All Star led the Major Leagues in various categories which led to his winning 4 Cy Young Awards, 1972, 1977, 1980 and 1982.

Carlton led the league in strikeouts 5 times, 1972, 1974, 1980, 1982 and 1983 with 310 strikeouts in 1972.  With 4,136 strikeouts he is 4th all-time in this category and was the leader before being eclipsed by Nolan Ryan. He led the league in complete games 3-times achieving 30 complete games in 1972. His 329 career wins place him 11th at the present time in that category.

Lefty had a fastball, big curve and unhittable slider. Carlton is the last pitcher to win at least 25 games, winning 27, while compiling a 1.97 ERA, in 1972 for the last place Philadelphia Phillies, which remarkably represented 46% of all games won by the team that year. On September 15, 1969 Carlton struck out 19 New York Mets (the year the Mets won the World Series) in a losing cause 4-3.

Carlton picked 144 runners off of first base to lead the majors in that category. On the negative side Carlton leads all pitchers in balks with 90, which is more than twice his nearest rival.

Steve CarltonCarlton resented questioning from reporters in Philadelphia when he was having a difficult time and refused interviews for the rest of his career with the Phillies. Carlton mentions that not having to talk with the press enabled him to concentrate better.

"Lefty was a craftsman, an artist. He was a perfectionist. He painted a ballgame. Stroke, stroke, stroke, and when he got through (pitching a game) it was a masterpiece." - Richie Ashburn

Carlton was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994 with 96% of the vote.

You can check out Carlton's statistics at Baseball Reference.com.

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