February 20, 2013


Cecil Fielder, 1990 Upper Deck

The thing I remember most about Cecil Fielder's 1990 season is this card. Not that I think about Cecil Fielder's 1990 season a lot, or at all, but sometimes, when I do - like when I'm posting this card to this blog and need an introductory paragraph - I immediately think of this card.

The main reason I think of this card is because the 1 in 51 looks SO MUCH like a 7 to me. Every time I look at this card, which is almost never, but DOES include now, I think, "Wait, did he hit 51 home runs or 57? I feel like it would have been a huge deal if it were 57 because that is very close to 61. But I don't remember it being such a huge deal. I know I could go online right now or just flip this card over, but it bothers me that I have already spent so much time wondering about this. I was supposed to be at work an hour ago. Wait, was I? What day is it?"

Obviously, artist V. Wells did a fantastic job here - the action and posed montage is splendid and an obvious nod to some of Monet's* finest work. I do, however, feel as though the number is the centerpiece, and in that regard at least some level of failure is at play here. The major point this card is trying make - Cecil Fielder hit THIS MANY home runs - is not clear to me. Maybe if the racing stripes were going the other way?

Honestly though, is it me? Am I only the only one who thinks this looks much more like 57 than 51? It's possible I'm over-thinking this.

In my quest to obtain multiple sources citing 51, I did venture on to Fielder's baseball-reference page. I noticed he is listed there at 230 lbs. That literally seems 100 pounds less than I remember him being. Every recollection I have of Cecil Fielder seems conflicted and warped. All I know for sure these days is that his son Prince Amukamara also plays sports and doesn't eat vegetables.

Pretty neat that Fielder's 50th and 51st home runs came on the season's final day. Also he hit six more home runs, giving him eight, which is a record.

The last three games for the Tigers were in New York. Fielder went 0-for-8 in the first two games of the series and it looked as if the 49 jinx might stop him.

I recall nothing about a 49 jinx, but the 49 jinx seems comical in retrospect. Forty-nine was the average number of home runs hit by each player in the years 1998 - 2003. Hey, remember when Richie Sexson hit 45 home runs TWICE? What the farts happened there? Richie Sexon's middle name is Lockwood, by the way. I am learning a lot today, on the Internet.

Finally, Fielder hit a Steve Adkins fastball that reached the "Upper Deck" and made history.

I like what Upper Deck did there. Brought it back to them because they are the focus here. I wonder if they would have paid the $6 million to commission this artist's rendering if Fielder's 50th home run had barely cleared the outfield wall, hitting the Topps of it.

*Monet is the only famous artist that came to mind. I assume he also did baseball player montages.


Kevin said...

Mike, great work as always. Did you know that "V. Wells" is Vernon Wells, Sr., and that he did all of Upper Deck's player portraits from 1989 through 1993? He also has a son who is famous for being bad enough at baseball to earn over 100 million dollars. Baseball, man.

mkenny59 said...

You know, Kevin, I think along the way somewhere I discovered the full name was Vernon Wells, but I thought it was a coincidence. I never realized they were related. I learned something new today, thanks! It must be so difficult to produce a montage portrait of your own son without throwing a little extra effort in there. Like a picture of him batting, fielding, and a third one where he's emerging from the womb. Then again, when your son makes $100 mill and bats like .236, I guess he doesn't need a montage, so maybe the difficulty comes in restraining yourself from producing one at all. Thanks for the comment and info!

tourist504 said...

Wells > Perez, the Diamond Kings guy.

I just did a post on 1990 Upper Deck last night. I am linking to this post because it's super funny.

That Upper Deck meta-reference is something new. I bet Score included the word "score" in blurbs all the time without parentheses and bold face type. No sir, I don't like it.

Ben Henry said...

I think we need to introduce "a Steve Adkins ___" into the lexicon on this blog. As in, "I was having a hard time with that spreadsheet, but then Jim shared with me a real Steve Adkins equation and I finished up early."

mkenny59 said...

Thanks for the link, tourist! And yes, Wells DEF > Diamonds Kings guy, agreed.

Shawn Nova said...

I actually remember listening to the radio (listening to Ernie Harwell) with my dad and brother Jared, when Cecil hit #50 & #51, I remember us jumping around in the living room when he hit #50. It actually was a big deal, since no one hit 50 HR's since George Foster did it in the late 70's. George Foster would call and congratulate Cecil on the feat.