February 02, 2008

792 Ways to Say I Heart Baseball

I'm gonna put The 792 to bed this weekend, just in time for that annual moment when all of America pauses to lavish attention on their baseball card collections: The Super Bowl. Er... right. Anyway, here's the next 50 cards.

The 792: #451 - 500
451. Bruce Hurst, 1985
452. Lee Smith, 1982 (RC)
Within all the talk lately about Gossage's Hall of Fame bid, one thing keeps coming up: A lot of writers/fans are downplaying what Lee Smith did in his career. If I understand their argument correctly, it's that guys like Fingers, Sutter and Gossage deserve enshrinement but guys like Smith don't because Smith didn't have to work hard for his wins and saves. But I don't think you can discount Smith out of hand that easily. If that's the case, then will critics apply that rule to guys like Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera? Like Smith, both were completely dominant in their primes. Is it more that Smith never really played for a perennial contender and therefore his saves weren't worth as much? Lee Smith was a great player who, in my humble opinion, never got enough credit for his accomplishments.

453. Steve Jeltz, 1986
How come it seems like there are more memorable Phillies cards from this decade than any other team? Is it just that the Phillies poached their team from the cast of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo?

454. Bob Welch, 1983
455. Rick Burleson, 1981
456. Jeff Reardon, 1981 (RC)
457. Mackey Sasser, 1989 (RC)
458. Kevin Bass, 1986
459. Dennis Eckersley, 1987
460. Ryne Sandberg, 1985
461. Dwayne Murphy, 1980
462. Domingo Ramos, 1986
463. Fred McGriff, 1988 (RC)
I gotta tell you, I still find it shocking that it took so long for McGriff to find his way onto a regular-issue Topps card. Considering Donruss had him as a Rated Rookie in 1986, Topps really dropped the ball by not including him until three sets later (his XRC is in 1987 Traded). By the time 1988 rolled around and McGriff finally got his FTC rookie, he was already destined to be a minor/semi star for his career. I think that if his extended rookie card (XRC) had come in the 1986 Traded set, and his first Topps card rookie (FTC) in 1987, he would have enjoyed greater success and a larger fan base in the hobby.

464. Gaylord Perry Super Veteran, 1983
465. Mark Grace, 1989 (RC)
I distinctly remember an ad that used to run in Beckett Baseball Card Monthly of a little kid with five McGwire Team USA cards fanned out in one hand, and I remember thinking 'Shit! If only I was a year older, then that would be me with those five McGwires!' I also remember that I did the same thing--fanning out cards in one hand--only I did it with this card of Mark Grace. I was ready for my closeup and the untold riches and girls in bikinis that came with it. Needless to say, I'm still waiting.

466. Kal Daniels, 1987 (RC)
467. Bob James, 1986
468. Darren Daulton, 1988
469. Storm Davis, 1986
470. Nolan Ryan, 1984
471. Dick Howser, 1984 (MGR)
472. Dyar Miller, 1981
473. John Lowenstein, 1983
474. Kurt Kepshire, 1985
475. Cesar Geronimo, 1980
476. Danny Tartabull, 1987 (RC)
477. Mike Easler, 1986
478. Juan Eichelberger, 1981
479. Expos Future Stars, 1981 (RC)
If Tim Raines somehow defies the odds and makes it into the Hall of Fame, does that open the door for Kenny Lofton, should Lofton decide to ever retire?

480. Carlton Fisk, 1981
For some reason I had an overabundance of 1981 Red Sox cards when I was growing up. I had the Coke team set, but also just a lot of the regular cards. This is weird because I was two years old in 1981. This card of Fisk (his last as part of the Old Towne Team) was always my favorite of him (until I got a copy of his card from 1977; that one kicks some major ass).

481. Chris Brown, 1989
482. Rickey Henderson, 1980 (RC)
Speaking of guys who will never retire...

483. Fergie Jenkins, 1984
484. Ivan DeJesus, 1982
485. Garry Templeton, 1981
486. Otis Nixon, 1987
487. Bret Saberhagen, 1986
488. Ray Knight, 1987
489. Dodger Leaders, 1988
490. Chris Sabo, 1989 (RC)
I'd like to see a show of hands of those who rooted for Chris Sabo simply because of his Kareem goggles. Keep 'em raised if you thought Sabo's head looked a little like Mr. Met.

491. Jim Palmer Super Veteran, 1983
492. Tucker Ashford, 1984
493. Orel Hershiser, 1985 (RC)
494. Gary Roenicke, 1986
495. Eddie Murray, 1988
496. Bruce Bochte, 1987
497. Kevin Mitchell, 1988
Mitchell's Giants cap in this photo is up there for Achievement in Airbrushing. Coupled with the Dave Dravecky card from this year, it's almost as if the Topps editor woke up in the middle of the night and realized they'd forgotten to include cards of the Giants in the 1988 set, so they had to improvise. Fast.

498. Wade Boggs, 1983 (RC)
499. Bruce Ruffin, 1987 (RC)
500. Jose Canseco, 1989
Could #500 really have been any other card? The answer, of course, is 'No.'

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Andy said...

Over on my 88 Topps blog, somebody else asked about airbrushing on that Dravecky card. (right here.) I don't get it--how can you tell that it is airbrushed, and what in the photo is airbrushed?

Feldspar said...

Red Sox fans loved Lee Smith. After years of having Bob Stanley and Calvin Schiraldi close games for us, it was like heaven having the intimidating Lee Smith as the closer. He would sleep in the clubhouse until the 7th inning then slowly walk thru the outfield to the bullpen. The fans in the bleachers would rise up and literally bow in respect to him as he walked by. To think we got rid of him in favor of Jeff Reardon!