Ferguson Jenkins, baseball's first great Canadian pitcher, would become the ace of the Chicago Cubs pitching staff during the late 1960s and early 1970s and rattled off several seasons of dominating performances that would lead him to Cooperstown. This top list collects some of Jenkins' best baseball card appearances, including cards from throughout his career.
Jenkins began his MLB tenure with the Philadelphia Phillies before eventually being traded to the Cubs and finding incredible success as a starting pitcher. During a six-season stretch from 1967 to 1972, Jenkins would top 20 wins, notch more than 200 strikeouts, and average more than 300 innings pitched in each season. The 1971 season would prove to be his best with the Cubs, going 24-13 and winning the 1971 National League Cy Young Award. He became both the first Cub and Canadian player to win the honor.
Although it is not quite as famous as Carl Hubbell's All-Star game performance, Jenkins struck out six batters during the 1967 All-Star game, including notable sluggers Harmon Killebrew and Mickey Mantle and contact hitters Rod Carew and Tony Oliva. Jenkins was eventually traded to the Texas Rangers following the 1973 season and he found continued success there. His 1974 record of 25-12 set the season-wins record for the Rangers that still stands today.
Because Fergie Jenkins played for so many teams, there are plenty of choices for team collectors other than the Cubs. Red Sox fans can find options documenting his stop in 1976 Topps Traded, 1977 Topps, and 1978 Topps. Another notable option, Phillies fans can find a Jenkins autograph honoring his brief time with the team in 2004 Topps as part of the Retired Signatures set that came in sealed plastic cases. He returned to the Cubs during his finals seasons in the majors and his last cards as a player came in 1982 Topps Traded, 1983, and 1984 Topps.
Outside of the standard MLB releases, Jenkins took part in the Senior League in the late 1980s and early 1990s and there are a few cards highlighting that part of his career. Topps issued a 1989-1990 Senior Professional Baseball Association box set and Pacific produced their own Senior League set in 1991 that have Jenkins included on the checklist.
Although he's mainly known for his time time with the Chicago Cubs, Fergie only played ten of his 19 seasons with them and so, in building a list of his top baseball cards, an effort was made to include a couple of his non-Cubs cards appearances.
Top 10 Fergie Jenkins Baseball Cards
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This 28-card Red Lobster Cubs release was created for a giveaway at Wrigley Field in honor of the restaurant and it is said to be limited to 15,000 sets. Along with the Jenkins card, which features the rare facsimile signature placed above the subject of the card, there is also an early Ryne Sandberg that is sought-after by Cubs collectors.
The cards in 1969 Topps Decals were available to collectors in packs of 1969 Topps and were typically the same design as the cards from the flagship set. Jenkin's decal card, however, is completely different, using the 1969 Topps design style but his photo from 1968 Topps. The 1969 Topps base card has Jenkins in the wind-up position using orange coloring for his name rather than the yellow on the decal. I'm sure parents around the country were excited to learn that the decals could be attached to nearly any surface.
The lone Jenkins appearance on the list from his days with the Texas Rangers is from 1975 Topps. The card honors Jenkins' best season with the Rangers in 1974 when he was named the Comeback Player of the Year. Of course, collectors can also track down a mini version of the card and, in 2011 Topps Lineage, they can find a Jenkins card with him in a Cubs jersey but using the 1975 design.
On the reverse side of Jenkins' 1971 Topps card he is referred to as the best Canadian pitcher in baseball history and his résumé makes a strong case for him. Jenkins was the first Canadian to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Cubs retired his #31 in 2009.
Along with his 1970 Topps base card you can also find Fergie on two pitching leaders cards, including appearances by Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson. Jenkins is described as a four-sport athlete in the write-up on his base card and his basketball skills were so great that he actually played for the Harlem Globetrotters during the offseason from 1967 to 1969.
Jenkins is featured on many pitching leaders cards that place him with some of the best pitchers of the 1960s and 1970s, but the card that combines the most star power is his 1969 Topps card featuring Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal. During the 1968 season, Marichal led the league with 26 wins, followed by Gibson's 22 wins, and Jenkins' 20 victories.
Jenkins' card in 1968 Topps highlights his ability to strikeout batters, noting that he set the Cubs team record during the 1967 season. By the end of his career, Jenkins would become one of just four pitchers to record more than 3,000 strikeouts and less than 1,000 walks, demonstrating his great control.
An early example of a Jenkins certified autograph can be found in the 1999 Fleer Sports Illustrated set. His autograph card features a reproduction of the Sports Illustrated cover from August 30, 1971 that showcased Fergie throwing on the front. Jenkins' autograph is famous for its oversized loop on the top and an undersized bottom loop on the "J" of his last name.
1967 Topps offers collectors the first Fergie Jenkins card as a Cub, making it one of his most popular cards overall. The following season, Jenkins would begin his 20+ win streak that would continue for six seasons. This led to him becoming the ace of the staff and a Cubs legend along the way.
Casual collectors of Hall of Fame rookie cards might be a bit surprised to find Fergie Jenkins wearing a Philadelphia Phillies jersey on his 1966 Topps Rookie Stars card. Jenkins began his pitching career as a relief pitcher and it wasn't until he was traded to the Cubs that he would transition to a starter. Bill Sorrell, Jenkins teammate on his rookie card, played parts of three seasons with three different teams before retiring in 1970.