To say I was shocked when I clicked on the White Sox Cards blog this morning would be an understatement. It took a moment to register that Steve was talking about the actual National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum located in Cooperstown, and not a team Hall of Fame or perhaps the St. Michael’s High School Hall of Fame. While I have said in the past that I would not be upset by Harold Baines‘ induction, I never expected it to actually happen.
I’m still not mad.
Baines was a solid player for twenty-two seasons. He collected 2866 hits, good for #46 all-time and just 134 short of the “magic number.” As his former manager Tony La Russa said, “If it wasn’t for the strikes, he would have had 3000 hits.” The same argument is made by Fred McGriff apologists, so why shouldn’t it apply to Baines?
Every player ahead of Baines on the all-time hits list is in the Hall of Fame, save the permanently ineligible (Pete Rose), still active or recently retired (Adrian Beltre, Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols), or steroid-implicated players (whose names I would rather not mention).*
* Update: Omar Vizquel actually has 11 more hits than Harold, and I had overlooked him initially. Vizquel received 37% from BBWAA voters last year, and is eligible for nine more ballots as long as he does not drop below 5% support.
The Kid. Need I say more? Ken Griffey came within three votes of being the first unanimous selection for the Hall of Fame. I’m not sure if anyone will ever get every vote.
Of course, Griffey is best known for his time in Seattle. He was an absolute monster in his first eleven years, and everyone knew he was on his way to Cooperstown. The Mariners shocked the world when they traded him to Cincinnati. As a Reds fan, I was stoked, and I’m glad I got to see him play in person on several occasions.
After nearly nine years in Cincinnati, Reds fans turned on Griffey (as Reds fans always turn on their heroes, sadly). The Chicago White Sox decided to add the legend to their roster for the remainder of the 2008 season. It’s always strange to see him in a Chicago uniform.
Griffey returned to Seattle for one last hurrah, finally retiring in June, 2010.
When Frank Thomas was first called up to the White Sox in 1990, I fired off an autograph request to him. A week or two later, I received my 1990 Score card back with his name scrawled across it. I had no idea how great he would become, but I was happy to add the Big Hurt to my autograph collection. He quite answering fan mail just a few weeks later, so I considered myself fortunate to have scored his signature. Thomas was an intimidating player, always a threat to go deep. He hit 521 home runs in his career for the White Sox, A’s, and Blue Jays, and won back-to-back MVP Awards in 1993 and 1994.
He is the fourth-best catcher in history (according to JAWS), but it took two tries on the ballot for Carlton Fisk to get into the Hall of Fame. Granted, 1999 was a pretty loaded ballot…but fourth-best in history! Eleven All-Star selections, 1972 Rookie of the Year, and that Game 6 homer in 1975 defined the original Pudge’s career.
Long a major oversight of Hall of Fame voters, George Davis was championed by baseball historian Bill James prior to his induction. In 1995, James wrote that Davis was the best player outside the Hall, while Total Baseball rated him as the 21st greatest baseball player in history. He had never appeared on a BBWAA ballot, but the Veterans Committee finally decided Davis could join the other immortals in Cooperstown in 1998. According to JAWS, he is the fourth-best shortstop of all-time, behind Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken, and a stinkin’ cheater. In other words, Davis is the third-best.
I swear my memory is slipping. Before starting this project, if you had asked me when Nellie Fox was inducted into the Hall of Fame, I would have answered without hesitation, “Sometime in the 1970s. Not as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but definitely within seven or eight tries.” If you had corrected me, telling me that it was actually the Veterans Committee that selected him for enshrinement in 1997, I would have immediately whipped out my smartphone and looked up his B-R page to prove you wrong, because…oh. Wow. The BBWAA obviously missed one, and why in the world did it take the VC so long to correct that oversight? He was an MVP! He made 15 All-Star Games! How was he not a 1970s inductee?
In his final year on the ballot, 1985, Fox missed induction by two votes. TWO VOTES. And it still took another 12 years for the VC to put him in? Incredible.
Tom Seaver was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 as a New York Met. I get that. His greatest success came in New York, and the first team that everyone associates him with is the Mets. He won the Cy Young Award three times—as a Met—and won 198 games with the team. There was no question that the Mets would be featured on his cap on the plaque.
But he also played for the Reds, and it’s really difficult for me to not make a “Baseball Immortals” for Seaver without a Reds alternative…
And while I’m at it, I might as well make a White Sox card…
And a Red Sox card…
Bill Veeck was one of the most innovative marketing minds in baseball history. His most infamous publicity stunt came in 1979: “Disco Demolition Night.” The stunt led to a riot, forcing the White Sox to forfeit the game against the Detroit Tigers. Veeck was selected by the Veterans Committee to join the baseball legends in Cooperstown in 1991.
Ozzie Guillen represented the White Sox in Cincinnati in 1988, but did not play due to a nerve injury in his right leg.
The visiting clubhouse attendants pranked Guillen before the game. A steel cage in the visiting clubhouse housed a fake mongoose; veterans of the prank would approach the cage warily, rattling the cage, until an curious, unsuspecting player got too close. That’s when a spring was sprung and the ball of fur leaps…just like the victim. Many rookies fell victim to the gag through the years, and Guillen took the prank in stride, saying, “It was really something funny.”
Guillen made it back to the All-Star game twice, in 1990 and 1991. He went hitless in two at-bats at Wrigley in 1990, and had a sacrifice bunt off Rob Dibble at Toronto’s SkyDome in 1991.
To recap the actual 1988 All-Stars at shortstop…
I have been sitting on this post for absolutely no reason other than laziness. I bought a handful of fifty-cent packs when I was in Orlando at the beginning of the month, and scanned a handful of them, even uploaded the scans, but just haven’t been motivated to post them. I have nothing else planned for today, so let’s see what I got…
First up is Eric Davis from the 1987 Fleer Star Stickers set. These cards are very similar to the 1986 set, but with a green border instead of maroon. Either way, the border clashes with the red jersey.
The 1988 Fleer Star Stickers went with a gray border sprinkled with colorful stars. This Don Mattingly is the best card I pulled from that pack.
Back to 1987, and a pair of Reds in a pack: the best centerfielder and the best relief pitcher of the second half of the decade. John Franco is criminally underrated.
I bought a couple of packs of 1990 Donruss. Don’t look at me like that. I did not have any Grand Slammers cards, and I wanted a couple. I pulled the Todd Benzinger from one pack, and Will Clark from another. If I had found another pack with Bo Jackson on top, I would have bought that one too.
I did not know the 1992 Fleer “The Performer” cards came in packs of their own. I assumed they were inserts. In a five-card pack, I pulled Nolan Ryan and Frank Thomas. And probably some ‘roiders, I can’t remember now.
Art cards will always be my weakness. I’m not sure why I picked up a pack of 1992 Score, but I was happy to pull these bad boys.
Also from the same 1992 Score pack.
There it is. I knew there had to be something cool showing on the top of a 1992 Score pack for me to buy it, even at only fifty cents. Jim Thome is the man.
Kirby Puckett from 1996 Pinnacle Denny’s. Not sure why I bought this one-card pack. Oh well, at least it’s a Hall of Famer.
Think this candy is still good from 1991?
Finally, a couple of 1990 Baseball Buttons. I already have several of these, so I probably shouldn’t have bought them, but it was only fifty cents.