My Beckett.com post yesterday was all about my big fat love of 1986 Topps Traded, and how I think it's one of the most significant sets from the all-important 1986 to 1989 period in baseball cards. I also made the claim that out of the stellar 1986/87 rookie class, only three individuals would make the Hall of Fame: Barry Bonds, Andres Galarraga and Jim Leyland. To use a popular turn of phrase, one reader questioned the forthrightedness of my intentions (in other words: was I for real).
Reader Jeff writes,
Do you really see Galarraga as a HOF'er or was that said with tongue firmly in cheek? I just don't see it, he was a great story, especially with his personal triumphs, but our local star (also represented in the 86 TT set), Scott Bailes, has as much of a shot at Cooperstown (that was definitely said with tongue in cheek).
Yes, Jeff, I really do see Galarraga in the Hall of Fame. Here's why. We all know that personality plays into the BBWAA's choices almost as much as ability, awards and stats (otherwise a sourpuss like Jim Rice would already be enshrined), and Galarraga's resurrection from cancer, not once but twice is about as feel-good as a story can get. Besides overcoming remarkable medical battles and being a fan favorite, he hit for power, he hit for average and he was excellent in the field. People think that if a guy doesn't collect 3,000 hits, or doesn't hit 500 home runs or isn't a bona fide superstar over his career, then he isn't Cooperstown material. That's garbage. Also, players who peaked in the Nineties will inevitably be put under the steroids microscope when they come up for immortality. And for the most part, as with the first stipulation, it's irrelevant. Galarraga will run into both problems, as will his tenure with the Colorado Rockies. People will say the thin air inflated his numbers, but look at his pre-Rockies years on the Expos, playing in the cavernous Olympic Stadium: He crushed the ball out of there, too.
I don't think he'll make it right away, or even after a few years. I think he's more of a Veteran's Committee election type player. If you look at his page on Baseball Reference, scroll down to where the database compares him with other players. Cepeda and Stargell both make the list (as does Rice). His is an interesting case, one that I think will land him in the Hall. Andres Galarraga's stats on Baseball Reference
I'd like to enlist other readers on the following question. It's one I don't have an answer to (mostly because I remember really disliking Topps' design for 1990, so I didn't collect very many).
I was wondering if you know any info about the 1990 Topps Frank Thomas error card without the name on front... Like for instance was it found to be ONLY in factory sets, rack packs, wax packs, vending boxes, or whatever? I have a couple of unopened boxes of wax packs, and was wondering if there's a chance it might be in one of them. Also, in "researching" this, I read in the 2002 Beckett Almanac (that 1500+ page annual book with basically everything in it) that there were a few of the George Bush president cards accidentally put into some packs. Again, there's no information on the sources of those cards besides "a few collectors did receive these cards when opening packs." So at least they weren't a "factory-set only" kind of mistake, or only found in vending boxes... -Aaron, via email
As always, please leave comments on this post or email me your thoughts.