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Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Card #212, Jim Mason (Article 40)

by Paul Semendinger

(Continuing a series…)



Bucky Dent was a light-hitting shortstop who once his a big home run.

Dent’s homer, of course, helped the Yankees win the huge one-game playoff game against the Red Sox in 1978.

But Bucky Dent was not the only light-hitting Yankees shortstop to hit a surprising home run in a big game in that time period.

Maybe the more remarkable (if not game changing) home run was hit by Jim Mason…

Quick, name all of the Yankees who hit home runs against the Cincinnati Reds in the 1976 World Series…

That list begins and ends with Jim Mason.

The Yankees, as a team, hit but one homer in the 1976 Fall Classic. That home run came off the bat of Jim Mason in Game Three (a game they lost 6-2). Jim Mason provided all of the Yankees’ long ball power in that series.

(After watching his Yankees get swept in that series, with no power hitting, is it any wonder that George Steinbrenner went all-out to sign Reggie Jackson for the 1977 season?)

***

The Yankees purchased Mason from the Texas Rangers prior to the 1974 season. In 1974, he played in 152 games as the Yankees’ starting shortstop. And he didn’t do poorly. 1974 might have been Mason’s best season as he batted .250/5/37. Mason was a solid, if not great defender that year (dWAR 0.5) and an overall positive asset to the team bWAR 1.2).

Unfortunately for Mason, and the Yankees, that was the best they’d get.

In 1975, Mason shared shortstop with Fred Stanley and batted just .152 over 94 games.

In 1976, again sharing the position with Stanley, Mason appeared in 93 games and batted just .180.

(Fred Stanley hit a combined .230 with but one homer over the 1975 and 1976 seasons. Is it any wonder, the Yankees sought a new shortstop for 1977, and brought in Bucky Dent?)

After the 1976 season, the Yankees left Mason exposed in the expansion draft and he was taken by the Toronto Blue Jays. He would play for Toronto, the Texas Rangers, and the Montreal Expos through the 1979 season.

***

One last quick quiz – Name the only left-handed batters to start as a Yankees shortstop over a full season:

Pee Wee Wanninger (1925)

Tony Kubek (1958-1965)

Jim Mason (1975)

Didi Gregorius (2015-2019)

Once again, Jim Mason was in rare company.

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