If you were asked to come up with the quintessential 1970s ballplayer -- the one person who was the most typical example of a ballplayer from the '70s -- how would you go about determining that?
Perhaps you would narrow it down to players who spanned the entire "Me Decade". Maybe you would determine which players won the most titles during the '70s. Or maybe you'd break out the statistics and develop formulas that matched the average production of a '70s ballplayer, the propensity to gravitate to a team featuring baby blue road uniforms, or calculate the the collective size of hair length and mustache.
I didn't do any of that to figure out the quintessential '70s ballplayer.
Instead, I merely consulted some Hostess cards from that very decade.
Based on that Hostess research, there is one player among the three above that is a quintessential '70s ballplayer, and I hate to break it to you Carlton or Porter fans: that player is Ron Cey, Infield, Los Angeles Dodgers.
Today is Cey's 69th birthday. As you know, he is my favorite ballplayer of all-time, has been since 1975.
I show some bias when it comes to my favorite ballplayer and the '70s, so I might as well continue that for at least today. It's The Penguin's birthday. I need to show some respect.
So how did I let Hostess determine that Cey is a quintessential '70s ballplayer?
It's quite simple.
I determined all of the players to appear in every Hostess set, issued from 1975-79. That's five sets, so a quintessential '70s ballplayer should have five different Hostess cards (I'm not counting unissued proofs, Hostess fanatics).
Cey is one of those players to appear in all five sets.
There they all are, side-by-side.
I'll show them one at a time, too, so you can see them at a respectable size.
There you have it. The quintessential '70s ballplayer is a man of average height, who provides solid middle-of-the-lineup power, fields his position well, runs like a penguin and wears his blond hair long and mustachioed. He also happens to play for the Dodgers.
But that might be my bias coming through some.
Weren't there other players who appeared in every issue of Hostess?
Yep. There are 30 total.
Here are the players not named Cey that show up in all five Hostess sets:
1. Buddy Bell
2. Johnny Bench
3. Cesar Cedeno
4. Dave Concepcion
5. Bobby Grich
6. Mike Hargrove
7. Toby Harrah
8. Reggie Jackson
9. Dave Kingman
10. Davey Lopes
11. Greg Luzinski
12. Bill Madlock
13. Gary Matthews
14. Hal McRae
15. Joe Morgan
16. Thurman Munson
17. Phil Niekro
18. Jim Palmer
19. Gaylord Perry
20. Rick Reuschel
21. Pete Rose
22. Nolan Ryan
23. Mike Schmidt
24. Tom Seaver
26. Ted Simmons
27. Willie Stargell
28. Dave Winfield
29. Robin Yount
I love this list. 1975-79 is exactly when I was discovering Major League Baseball and its players. I hold great attachment for many of the players on that list. These guys may seem ancient and long ago to you, but to me they are young and at their peak.
Hostess did well covering the superstars of that time period -- Bench, Jackson, Rose, Seaver -- and they made sure to feature the upcoming stars, too -- Madlock, Winfield, Yount. But there are several big names that didn't make all five sets, names like Carew, Garvey and Brett.
Does that mean there are quintessential '70s players who didn't appear in all five Hostess sets?
Well, you won't hear that from me. Especially not on Cey's birthday.
After all, I'm still miffed that Kellogg's didn't feature Cey in every one of its sets for when he was playing. Just four?