Some of the Top Cards of 1976

Friday, December 17, 2010

1976 Topps #648 - Al Cowens

  • Al Cowens was a major league outfielder from 1974-1986. Cowens had a great arm, as this card illustrates, and usually had double-figure outfield assist totals. Al was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1969. Cowens played in the minors from 1969-1973 before  making the major league ballclub in 1974. Al batted .242 with 1 HR in 110 games in 1974.
  • In 1975 Cowens batted .277 with 4 HR in 120 games. Al had a similar year in 1976, batting .265 with 3 HR in 152 games. Cowens went 4 for 21 (.190) in the 1976 ALCS.
  • Cowens had his best season in 1977. He finished second to Rod Carew in AL MVP voting and won a Gold Glove award. Al batted .312 with 23 HR and 112 RBI and also had 32 doubles and 14 triples. Cowens went 5 for 19 (.263) in the ALCS.
  • Al didn't hit for as  much power in 1978. He batted .274 with 5 HR and 63 RBI during the regular season and went 2 for 15 (.133) in the ALCS.
  • Cowens batted .295 with 9 HR in 136 games in 1979. He missed 21 games after having his jaw broken by an Ed Farmer pitch on May 8. Teammate Frank White had his hand broken by another Farmer pitch in the same game. These incidents would have repercussions a year later. After the 1979 season Cowens was traded (along with Todd Cruz and Craig Eaton) to the California Angels for Willie Aikens and Rance Mulliniks.
  • Al didn't have a good start with the Angels (.227 in 34 games) and was traded to the Detroit Tigers on May 27 for Jason Thompson. On June 20 Cowens faced Farmer again. As Farmer watched a teammate field a grounder, Cowens ran to the  mound and attacked Farmer from behind instead of running to first base. Cowens was suspended for seven games. A warrant was issued for Al's arrest in Illinois and he had to miss the remainder of the series. The two shook hands as they brought out the lineup cards on September 1 and Farmer dropped the charges, but for the remainder of his career Al saw "Coward Cowens" banners whenever his teams visited Comiskey Park. Al ended up batting .268 with 6 HR and 59 RBI in 1980.
  • Al played in 85 games in the 1981 strike season and batted .261 but homered only once. 
  • Cowens was purchased by the Seattle Mariners during spring training in 1982. Al had a bounceback season in 1982, batting .270 with 20 HR and 78 RBI.
  • Al missed a month of the 1983 season with an injury and batted only .205 with 7 HR in 110 games. 
  • Cowens had better years in 1984 (.277 with 15 HR and 78 RBI) and in 1985 (.265 with 14 HR and 69 RBI).
  • Al started slowly in 1986. He was batting .183 in 28 games when the Mariners released him on June 12. Cowens then played in Japan for a short time, but it didn't work out.
  • Cowens played for Bradenton in the Senior Professonal Baseball League in 1989 and batted .390 in 22 games. After his playing career Al was a scout for the Royals.
  • Cowens died of a heart attack on March 11, 2002 at the age of 50. Al's son Purvis started the Al Cowens Heart Healthy Foundation in 2010.
  • Liked to face: John Hiller (.529 in 17 AB); Mike Parrott/Steve Stone (.444 in 18 AB)
  • Hated to face: Jay Howell (.000 in 10 AB); Dave Frost (.056 in 18 AB); Jim Kern (.111 in 18 AB)


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