Fun Cards: 1989 Fleer Marty Brennaman, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and Joe Nuxhall (SuperStar Specials)
Randy Poffo was once a farmhand in the Cincinnati Reds system, but by the time he showed up at Riverfront Stadium in 1989 he had transformed himself into a wrestling superstar. “Macho Man” Randy Savage visited with Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall in the broadcast booth near the end of the season. Players, fans, and umpires noticed and seemed amused at his presence. One person was not amused, though: Reds owner Marge Schott. She ordered Brennaman to remove Savage from the booth, even threatening his employment.
Brennaman obeyed but did not remain silent about her tactics. Never one to mince his words, Marty later told Schott, “Don’t you ever try to intimidate me again. And if you have something to say to me, say it yourself.”
By the way, I really miss Fleer.
The 2016 Hall of Fame inductees were announced last night, and neither name was a surprise. The legendary centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr. and slugging catcher Mike Piazza will be enshrined as baseball immortals this summer in Cooperstown, New York.
I decided to create a couple of “fun cards” to commemorate the newest legends, but I wanted to go back to their rookie years. Griffey, a #1 overall draft pick for the Mariners in 1987, debuted in the big leagues in 1989. He was included in all the major sets, either in the base set or the year-end updates: Bowman, Donruss, Fleer, Score, Topps, and Upper Deck. So I had to think outside the box, and decided to borrow a design from Fleer’s basketball release in 1989.
Piazza was a bit easier when it came to the design. While he was featured in the Bowman set, Fleer was the only other company that saw fit to include him in their year-end set. After all, what type of impact could a 62nd-round catcher possibly have in baseball? Topps and Upper Deck completely ignored Piazza, while Donruss saw fit to include him in an insert set, but not the base. As I am a bigger fan of Topps than any of the others (at least when it comes to the 1992 design), I decided to make a Topps card-that-should-have-been for him. However, in 1992, Piazza wore uniform #25 rather than #31, so it was a bit tricky tracking down an era-appropriate photo.
I’m happy with the way these turned out, and I’m happy to see these players getting their just due. Griffey, three votes short of a unanimous selection, and Piazza, who had to wait until his fourth year of eligibility, are true examples of baseball done right.