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Fun Cards: 2012 Topps Barry Larkin…the Hall of Famer

Hello Cooperstown

Photo credit: Getty Images

Shortstop Barry Larkin, a lifetime Red, took his place among the immortals on Sunday at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

If my count is right (and yes, I did use my fingers!) this is the fifth 2012 Topps-style Larkin and seventh “fun card” of the legend that I have made this year. The two non-2012 Topps-style cards were done in the style of the 1985 Topps USA subset and the 1986 Topps Traded styles. Those cards were posted earlier this year shortly after the announcement was made that Barry had received the requisite 75% from the BBWAA.

Fun Cards: 2012 Topps Tom Browning

HAPPY OPENING DAY!

One of baseball's perfect game pitchers

The Cincinnati Reds opened the baseball season on the road only twice in the 20th century (and only four times in the history of the franchise). In 1966, it was the rain that forced the Reds to start in Philadelphia; in 1990, a labor dispute between the owners and players delayed the season and the Reds played their first game in Houston’s Astrodome. Mr. Perfect, Tom Browning, was the Opening Day starter that year, and though he didn’t get the decision, Cincinnati won 8-4 over the Astros. Browning started the season for the Reds three times in his career, going 1-0 (but the Reds did win all three games).

Fun Cards: 2012 Topps Beanie Wells

OSU running back Beanie Wells

First-round draft pick for the Arizona Cardinals in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Ohio State alum threw out the first pitch to a spring training exhibition between the Reds and Indians. I guess Beanie Wells couldn’t make up his mind about who to root for, wearing a Cincinnati jersey and a Cleveland hat.

Fun Cards: 2012 Topps Jeff Francis

Odd man out

Someone I don’t expect to see in the starting rotation, but I’m no Dusty Baker. Jeff Francis came over after a disappointing year in Kansas City. I don’t know how he has performed this spring, but he is pretty low on my list of prospective starters.

Fun Cards: 2012 Topps Ryan LaMarre

He could be a future star

Hitting .279 with 52 stolen bases last year for Bakersfield, Ryan LaMarre still has a way to go before he makes the big league club. With all the question marks in left field, though, you never know when he might get his shot.

Fun Cards: 2012 Topps Donald Lutz (@braunerhulk)

Reds minor leaguer Donald Lutz in spring training

One of the cuts made to the spring roster earlier this week was Donald Lutz, optioned to Bakersfield. He played in Dayton last year and put up solid numbers, and was having a fine spring (7 hits in 23 AB, including 2 homers). But he plays first base, and that position is currently occupied by a guy named Joey Votto. Perhaps if Vottomatic flies the coupe after the 2013 season, Lutz will get a fair shot in Cincinnati.

Fun fact: Lutz is a dual citizen of the USA and Germany. Ehrfürchtige.

Fun Cards: 2012 Topps Denis Phipps

Phipps slides in at home

The Reds don’t have a whole lot of guys in the outfield, especially with the trade of Dave Sappelt to the Cubs, so Denis Phipps is in a position to break camp with the big boys. He’s not having a bad spring, and if he can keep it up it would be nice to have a bat like that coming off the bench.

Fun Cards: 2012 Topps Eric Davis

@EricDavis3344 is an unverified Twitter account, but I like to think it’s legit. A true Cincinnati legend, Eric Davis will forever be celebrated in the Queen City.

Fun Cards: 2012 Topps Mr. Red

Returning to the family of mascots this year is an updated Mr. Red! Mr. Red was retired in 2007, but has been redesigned and will come out of retirement in 2012, and he looks so much better than he did 5 years ago. He joins Gapper, Mr. Redlegs, and Rosie Red as official team mascots.

I’ve said this a million times…if they don’t do a live, on-the-field race (like the Nationals’ mascots), then I will be extremely disappointed. The scoreboard race just isn’t that entertaining.

Fun Cards: 2012 Topps Walt Jocketty

This is the guy who puts the team together, general manager Walt Jocketty. He signed Jay Bruce to a long-term deal, and convinced Joey Votto to stick around at least through 2013 (and hopefully he’ll be able to extend that). He reeled in Aroldis Chapman and traded for Mat Latos. I hope all the pieces to the puzzle finally fit together this year.

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