One of my favorite television shows growing up was The Greatest American Hero, featuring the bumbling superhero Ralph Hinkley. The series is currently available to stream on Hulu. While watching a few weeks ago, I came across a second-season episode called “The Two-Hundred-Mile-an-Hour Fast Ball,” which originally aired November 4, 1981. As you might guess from the title, it is the “baseball episode” of the series.
I checked one of my new favorite blogs, Phantom Cardboard, which mashes up pop culture with trading cards. He has created some awesome cards for The Karate Kid, Harry and the Hendersons, Who’s The Boss?, Ronald Reagan, and more. But he hasn’t tackled The Greatest American Hero yet.
As the show aired in late 1981, I decided to go with 1982 designs. I’m going to stretch this over three days, and day one will feature the 1982 Donruss design.
Ralph Hinkley (William Katt), high school teacher by day, major league pitcher by later-in-the-day-but-not-quite-night. Hinkley impressed California Stars team owner Deborah Dante (played by Markie Post of Night Court fame) in a tryout arranged by FBI agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp). In his only pitching appearance, Hinkley struck out the single batter he faced, throwing the ball at over 200 miles per hour. The Stars announcer, Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale, was amazed by Hinkley’s fastball which destroyed the catcher’s mitt. “Baseball has just found a new legend,” Drysdale exclaimed. “With three pitches, this unknown named Ralph Hinkley has possibly changed the sport forever. I don’t believe it!”
Stars manager Shorty Robinson (Bruce Kirby), however, was not trying to win ballgames. He was in league with a couple of gun runners, and throwing the games was going to erase their debt with some nefarious criminal. Or something like that. By the end of the episode, Robinson had been relieved of his duties and replaced by…
Manny Garcia (William Marquez). Garcia and Robisnon began arguing in the dugout during the last game of the season, which allowed Hinkley to slip in and pinch hit. What happened when the “new legend” came to the plate? Go watch the episode and find out!
We’ll be back tomorrow with more “fun cards” from The Greatest American Hero!
I remember 1982 Donruss included coach’s cards because I had a Vada Pinson card, who was coach for the White Sox. So I decided to make a Don Mattingly coach card for the Dodgers, since he hasn’t been pictured in anything but pinstripes previously. I’m no Dodgers fan (sorry Night Owl and GCRL), nor am I a Yankee fan (far from it), but I like Mattingly. Hopefully he’ll become a manager somewhere and have a spectacular career so he can go into the Hall of Fame (where he belongs as a player).