The trade of Tom Seaver to Cincinnati in 1977 caused riots in New York. Shea Stadium was nearly destroyed. Marshall Law was in effect in the Big Apple. The persons responsible for the trade were more despised than the Son of Sam.
After a handful of seasons with the Reds, Tom returned to the Mets in 1983, then moved on to the American League to finish out a terrific career.
One of my favorite parts of this card is the different White Sox logos. He played in Chicago for 13 seasons but the team went through so many jersey changes during that time. They seem to be stuck on that black and white design now; I personally wish they would go back to the early 80s looks.
I’ve had a blast following Carlton Fisk‘s baseball card career via The List of Fisk. I don’t always agree with his assessment of the cards, but I’m not as well versed in printing processes and the like. He is currently in the late 1980s, with about a post a week, and by his rules he is only collecting cards issued during the catcher’s playing days so he will probably be wrapping up by the end of this year or early next.
Another big Fisk fan is Steve of White Sox Cards, although he has been all about Harold Baines lately thanks to his Hall of Fame selection. I used to send Steve my extra White Sox cards but haven’t sent anything to him in a while. Maybe this summer I will get around to putting some packages together again and send something up his way.
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.